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Digging burdock.

Botanical name:

Newsgroup: alt.folklore.herbs
From: Marianne Lepa <eastman.mail.flarc.edu.on.ca>
Date: 13 Feb 1996 09:02:12 -08
Subject: Harvesting Burdock Root?

Hi!

I've just joined in this group and it looks like a great source of info for me. My main interest is in vegetable growing but I include medicinal and culinary herbs in that category. My neighbour and I are two years into a project of cataloging all the wild plants that grow on our properties (about 45 acres in total). What an amazing exercise! The first time out we spent four hours identifying, photographing and notetaking and we travelled less than 20 feet from the back door!

Anyway...as a result we have become interested in creating herbal remedies from some of the plants that we have identified. We have made moisturizers with chamomile and calendula from our gardens and from chickweed in the grass. We also made an oil from St. John's Wort that our forty-something bodies find excellent for muscle pain.

I have been buying a burdock root tincture from an herbalist who is a considerable distance from here. She doesn't do mail-order, so the transaction has to pass through many hands before I get it. I swear by a tea made from this tincture, I haven't had a bad winter cold since I began to drink a cup every day.

I'm feeling confident enough now to try and make my own with the burdock that grows wild here. And here's my question (you knew there had to be one somewhere, didn't you, thanks for hanging on this long) when is the best time to harvest the burdock root? The literature I have seems contradictory, some say fall others say spring. None of what I have refers directly to making tinctures.


From: callie.writepage.com (Callie)

> when is the best time to harvest the burdock root?

Dig the FIRST-YEAR (plant hasn't flowered) roots, rinse off dirt, hang to dry in a dark place with good ventilation. Neither of my sources say fall or spring ... just first year. Reportedly roots are stronger in the fall, after the first frost. Gathering in the spring avoids the problem of which are first-year plants - the 2'd year ones are dead.

After it dries, you grind it coarsely and make a tincture of 10% by weight of the root and 90% by weight of alcohol. Shake well, cork, let stand a few days, then strain. Dosage is 8-12ccs It doesn't dissolve well in water ... teas don't work.
(Teas work nicely. If you were to make a tincture it'd be best to do a 1:5 50% (by weight), not a 1:10 ??%. -Henriette)

BTW - the stalks of young plants are edible. After the flowers form not so edible - though and bitter.


From: HeK.hetta.pp.fi (Henriette Kress)

>> Dig the FIRST-YEAR (plant hasn't flowered) roots, rinse off dirt, hang to dry in a dark place with good ventilation. Neither of my sources say fall or spring ... just first year. Reportedly roots are stronger in the fall, after the first frost. Gathering in the spring avoids the problem of which are first-year plants - the 2'd year ones are dead.
>Arn't these suckers perenial....sure seems like they grow in the same place every year.

Callie is right, burdock only lives for two years. First year only a rosette, and a big root in fall, second year tall flowerstalk, and seeds, and no more root come fall.

Usually roots should be dug in fall rather than spring; they do suffer somewhat from winter (at least over here). If you forgot to or didn't get around to digging in fall you can of course dig in spring too. As early as possible in spring, or as late as possible in autumn.

As to drying - I wouldn't just wash and hang up to dry, I wash, cut into strips less than 5 mm thick and toss these to dry in the dehydrator. Takes a while but you get good stuff that way.


From: elizper.aol.com (ElizPer)

Here in the South, digging it anywhere from late in the fall until late winter works good, as the soil is rarely frozen. Do bring a good shovel! Don't even think about just pulling the roots out! Yes, it is a "biennial", a plant that lasts 2 years. If you're going to make it into a tincture/extract, I suggest using it as soon as you harvest. I don't dry plants when I make tinctures. Just rinse off dirt, (you can scrub gently with a brush), chop into pieces, and put into a container. Fill jar with roots. Fill with alcohol. I use vodka. Cap, and allow to steep. People to this for varying lengths of time, from 2 to 6 weeks. I almost always allow roots to infuse for at least 6 weeks, since they are dense and woody. Hope this helps!

Elizabeth



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