Arctium lappa. Burdock.
Nat. Ord. — Asteraceae ; Cynaraceae, (Lindley). Sex. Syst. — Syngenesia Aequalis.
Root and Seeds.
Description. — By De Candolle this plant is named Lappa Minor, and by Gaertner, Lappa Major. It is a biennial plant, with a fleshy, tapering root, a foot or more in length, of a brown color externally, white internally, furnished with thread-like fibers, and having withered scales near the summit. The stem is erect, three or four feet high, succulent, pubescent, branching, bearing very large, cordate, denticulate leaves, of a dark-green color above, whitish and tomentose beneath, and standing on long footstalks. The flowers are purple, globose, in panicled heads. The involucre consists of imbricated scales, with a horny, hooked extremity, by which they can attach themselves to clothes, and the hair or wool of animals. The florets are all perfect, five-cleft, with a ten-nerved tube. The stamens have papillose filaments, and their anthers are terminated by filiform appendages, and have subulate tails at the base. The stigmas are free at the apex, diverging and curved outward. The receptacle is somewhat fleshy, flat, and furnished with stiff subulate fringes. The achenia are oblong, smooth, with a rough, prickly pappus. The seeds are quadrangular.
History. — Burdock is a native of Europe, and grows abundantly in this country, among rubbish, on road-sides, and cultivated grounds. The root and seeds are the officinal parts ; the first loses about four-fifths of its weight by desiccation ; it should be collected in the spring. The odor of the root is weak and unpleasant, the taste sweetish, mucilaginous, slightly bitter and astringent. It contains sugar, gummy extractive, a large quantity of inulin, some salts, etc. "Water or diluted alcohol extracts its properties. The seeds are aromatic, bitterish, and somewhat acrid.
Properties and Uses. — Alterative, diaphoretic, diuretic, and aperient. Useful in scorbutic, syphilitic, scrofulous, gouty, leprous, and nephritic diseases. To prove effectual its use must be persevered in for a long time. The seeds are more diuretic than the root, and are said to be likewise a more useful alterative ; they are principally used in nephritic complaints. Externally the leaves or their juice in the form of an ointment, have been employed with advantage in cutaneous diseases, and obstinate ulcers. Dose, of a decoction or syrup, half a pint three times a day.
Off. Prep. — Infusum Arctii ; Extractum Arctii ; Syrupus Sarsaparillae Compositus.