Ok so NO one loves pulling burrs from their dog, their kid, or their own hair and clothes, however, this plant is definitely WORTH being stuck to! Sometimes called Burdock, Beggar’s buttons (because it has a very pretty purple flower in July and August), thorny burr, or Lappa it’s actual Latin name is Arctium Lappa.
This plant is part of the thistle family, is a great bird and pollinator food source, and is an incredible healer of the soul. It has a huge taproot which means it is amazing for helping with compacted soil by naturally breaking it up as it grows. Its very long root also acts as an amazing magnet for trace minerals found deep down in the Earth which are very beneficial to our diets.
Despite its thorny appearance, it is a soothing plant for our bodies when ingested. Although the entire plant can be used, most people work with the seeds or roots which can act as a natural cleansing and soothing/moistening agent for the body. Burdock is a natural aid to our liver and can also help move stagnant fluid (lymph) gently through our bodies sort of like a very gentle natural detox. The root has a very high amount of Inulin making it a natural pre-biotic which supports a very healthy gut lining!
One thing I LOVE about this guy is you don’t have to be a herbalist to use him or make any real medicine to enjoy his benefit other than COOK! You can often buy burdock root this time of year from farmers’ markets, Chinese grocery stores, or organic delivery places like On The Move Organics (if you are in London and the surrounding area). The root can be roasted to drink as a tea (it’s actually quite sweet when roasted), you can slice it up and add it to soup stocks, or even pan fry it or add to meals instead of potatoes!
When exploring and wanting to work with this plant it is CRITICAL you are certain what you are working with. It’s very large leaves can easily be mistaken for Rhubarb. Rhubarb leaves when consumed are highly toxic, Burdock leaves are safe. When working with the root of the plant we harvest it only in the spring or fall, so be really sure which leaf you are looking at before you dig. It has been documented that people digging for Burdock have come into contact with belladonna. These two plants have very different effects on our systems. It is crucial you know what you are looking for.
Burdock grows well in a home garden and it has a two-year life cycle.
If you want to have plants every year, you may wish to have a small section just for him… and be sure to keep the kids and dogs away from here!
If you want to look at this plant through a spiritual lens, (cause ya know I love where spirituality and science intersect) we can look at this plant as an aid in accessing our deepest dark spots for healing. The long roots take us into our Root Chakra for breaking apart the parts of us that feel undernourished and unsupported by life.
This plant is a first-responder, it responds to compaction by creating space for life and so it can respond to our hardness by creating space for light. The prickly burrs ask us to look at what we are holding on to or attached to that no longer serves us. And, just as quickly, it asks us what it is we would love to attach ourselves to going forward.
Where can we get uncomfortable in our life to deepen our connection to the magic buried within us all?
When I want to work with this plant for its spiritual properties I lean into the work of Samantha Orthlieb. My favourite product is the Shaman Essence where I can slow down and explore my relationship with my inner Shaman versus my inner Sabotuer. In my life, I lean into the Saboteur for a reminder of Courage. I do not view these aspects of myself as good or bad, I see them all as learning opportunities and I value these diverse aspects of myself. These moments keep me deeply connected to the plant as well as keep my spiritual path in full focus. When I want to work with both the spiritual and the physical elements and I don’t have any root of my own, I turn to the Shaman Elixir which contains the plant parts.
Whether this plant makes its way into a broth or an elixir in your life it can be a great addition to reconnecting to the Earth while nourishing your mind, body, and soul. As you walk along your life path, take notice of where Burdock appears and how often.
When you see him, ask if he has a message for you? Is your body craving some gentle cleansing or does your soul want to explore your spiritual connection to the Root Chakra?
Plants communicate to us in many ways, how will you interact with Burdock?
*Always check with your doctor before trying a new plant and remember that they are medicine. The information provided here is for interest only, and no outcome is guaranteed. Nothing on this website should be taken as medical or legal advice. Please use herbs responsibly.*
Samatha Orthlieb – Opening the Senses of The Soul
Rosemary Gladstar – The Science and Art of Herbalism
Rosealee De La Foret – Wild Remedies
Alma Hutchens – A Handbook of Native American Herbs