You'll find a list of all my blog posts in the blog archive.

Burdock seed.

Blog categories: 

They itch.

I'm away teaching this week, too, and yesterday we picked a couple of oodles of burdock flowerstalks in seed. We have the woolly burdock, Arctium tomentosum, but you can use any species you like - they all work. These are meant to juice up some connective tissue - tendons, joints, and so on.

Cleaning them went like this:
1) remove the dead flowers off the top of the seedhead
2) insert a finger into the seedhead
3) wriggle the finger inside that seedhead until the seeds fall onto the table in front of you.

That got us close to a liter of seeds with half an hour of wriggling (6 of us cleaned burdock seeds, the rest worked with the other herbs we had picked).

And that got us extremely itchy hands. And if one of us was dumb enough to scratch an itch on, say, a nose, then that nose, too, was covered in the itchy hairs of burdock. (The feeling goes something like, "Aaargh! Lemme strip everything off and take a shower!")

And there were a lot of itchy hairs in the burdock seeds on the table. So I took that liter or so of seeds and shook it in a large (as in huge) sieve, outdoors, downwind from me. Only, there wasn't much wind, and it kept turning ... I got a lot of burdock seed hairs on me, in addition to the ones I had picked up during the cleaning process. ("Aaaaaaargh!") (I did change my shirt later on, cos I couldn't stand the itch anymore.)

The seed were put into 80 % alcohol right away, cos I've worked with burdock seed before: there's lots of small-brown-fly larvae in there, and if you just dry them you end up with lots of small brown flies in your dried seeds jar.

That's a simpler's tincture: fill a jar with herb, cover with alcohol. Let sit - I plan on letting things sit for 2 weeks - then strain, pour into a bottle, label. I think 5-10 drops of this, 2-3 times a day, should work nicely for all sorts of things to do with tendons, and might help hurting joints, too. For those joints: also do 2-3 tablespoons of fish oil a day, it's amazing how much that helps things move.

Oh, and picking and cleaning burdock seed is still easier than digging up burdock root, which would also work for tendons and things.

Related entries: Burdock leaf - Burdock root - Burdock stalks


really, burdock seed for tendon stuff? Do elaborate, if you can... I can see it for gout and similar fluid/solid related joint pain, but don't know much to tell about its use for tendons...

and, oh, yes, those fine little remants of burr gice a sensation very much like fiberglass insulation does if you get into it. I once beat out a bag that last housed a plethora of burrs, to find, a little while later, my arm all an itch. I looked real close and could see those little hooked hairs all up and down my arm... washing didn't help at all; it took the application and removal of duct tape to remove them (and quite a bit of arm hair...)

I love burdock - and we have plenty of it around here in Quebec. I always use the roots - nevre thought of using the seeds. Last year in september, twice I found young bats stuck on the sticky fowers. Both were dead not being able to pull themselves away from it. Sticky indeed...

Jim: I thought you had used it that way. Oh well, perhaps the plant just whispered to me - we'll see how it works in a couple of weeks (or a month or two).

Bourouba: ouch. I've never seen bats on our burdocks, but that sounds like a miserable death. Poor critters.

I'm looking to buy burdock roots. Please tell me where i can find them.

Dunno about you, but I find them under burdock plants.

I'm living about 70 miles north of Chicago.

I'm sure you'll find burdock roots under burdocks in Chicago, too.

A lot of Japanese stores sell burdock root. In Canada, some of the 'health food stores' also sell it, when available (in late summer).

Well yes, but gobo is a vegetable, that's not an herb. Unless you stress it by letting it dry out quite a bit, in which case it gets a little stronger.

I work on a horse farm in Saratoga, NY and we have about 1 acre of huge Burdock plants. Does anyone know if they can be harvested in November for the roots, or are they too old since I can't verify the age? The 1 acre is a former compost pile so the plants just pull out.

Lucky you, with pullable burdock roots.
The ones that are white inside are good, the dark brown or black ones are dead.

Thanks for the info. I have been searching the web hoping to find a buyer of the roots I will harvest but, to no avail. It seems that someone would want to buy these since they are undamaged and very large in size. If I can't find a buyer within the next week or so (before the snow), I'll try to harvest them in the spring before the bulldozer plows the field. Wish me luck.:)

I'm sitting here right now trying to figure out how to get the burdocks out of my hair ;)

I'm wondering if you tried the Four seasons on Phila St.(,likely), or the Magic Moon, maybe? Wild Thyme in Ballston Spa? There is also a woman in Salem that harvests and sells..Lise Fuller. Maybe she could take some off your hands.
Good luck!

I'm off to squish and cream rinse and comb my hair now. Look for some duct tape.. ack.

be well all,

Burdock is a biannual which means its roots need to be harvested either in the fall/winter of their first year or early spring of their second year. After the second-year plants get bigger the roots begin to get more and more woody and less and less succulent and medicinal.

Aye, I talk about that in my blogpost about burdock root.

What is the french name for burdock ?



Why not try the link in the post?

my fellow farmers fear burdock will take over their gardens and want me to take in all the seed now -- before the plants die back and the seeds are mature. Right now the flowers have pretty much blooomed but the seeds are still white and soft. is it ok to harvest them now and tincture them?

I'd give it a try.

I have had success with freezing seeds which may harbor little eggs/larvae as the freezing tends to kill them.
But I haven't tried with burdock seeds yet....I will check it this fall. I have found a nice patch.