Arctium lappa Linnaeus

Remark The words or terms in red (actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a glossary.

jul_16_01n.gthmb can't be loaded. Arctium lappa is an introduced biennial plant. A European native, Arctium lappa was naturalized in this country with the first foreign travelers. During the first year of its growth the plant produces only a rosette of large, thin leaves from a long, tapering root. In the second year a round, fleshy, and branched stem is produced, the plant when full grown measuring from 3 to 7 feet in height. It is noted for attracting wildlife. The plant belongs to the Asteraceae family.


The genus name is said to come from the Greek αρκτοσ (arktos) meaning bear in reference to the shaggy burrs, to the rough involucre.

In Latin, lappa is the genus name, i.e. Arctium lappa is Arctium arctium or Lappa lappa! It is referred to in Georgica, a didactic work on agriculture of Publius Vergilius Maro, 70 B.C.E. - 19 B.C.E., in English Virgil or Vergil, and by Caïus Plinius Secundus, Pliny the Elder, 23 - 79, in his Naturalis Historia, the 1st encyclopedia, volume 18, paragraph 153.

Common names

Some of the vernacular names of Arctium lappa are: Common Burdock, Great Burdock, Beggar's buttons, Clotbur, Lappa, Gobo, Burr Burr, Cockle-button, Cuckold-dock, Hurrbur, Stick-buttons, Hardock and Bardane. Some of the French vernacular names are: Grande Bardane, Artichaut, Bardane, Bardane Majeure, Catherinette, Croquia, Glouteron, Graquias, Gratteau, Herbe aux teigneux, Piquant, Rapace, Rhubarbe du diable, Rhubarbe sauvage, Roses-bardine et Toque


Arctium lappa has also been known as:


This is an unmistakable species. It is quite conspicuous by its large size and the width of its leaves,

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The dense uncinate phyllaries of the involucre are an excellent characteristic for identification, particularly when the fruits are mature. It is quite easy to differentiate from Arctium minus, for the later, the flower heads have a much shorter peduncle, at time nearly absent. The flower heads of Arctium lappa are also quite bigger that those of Arctium minus, 2.5 cm and up to 4 cm, versus less than 2 cm. When not in flower nor in fruits, it is anyway always simple to differenctiate Arctium lappa from Arctium minus, the petioles of the later are hollow, those of Arctium lappa are not.

And don't get to close to the plant or don't let your dog go close to it, as the fruiting heads grab onto nearly everything!


The plant varies considerably in appearance, and by some botanists various subspecies, or even separate species, have been described, the variations being according to the size of the flower-heads and of the whole plant, the abundance of the whitish cotton-like substance that is sometimes found on the involucres, or the absence of it, the length of the flower-stalks, etc.

The plant owes its dissemination greatly to the little hooked prickles of its involucre, which adhere to everything with which they come in contact, and by attaching themselves to coats of animals are often carried to a distance.




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Flower heads



Waste places where soil is fertile but undisturbed; neglected farmlands; along fences, walls, and roadsides, old fields, railway lines. On moist, rich soils, chiefly calcareous soils.

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Canadian distribution: Québec, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Brithish Columbia. U.S. Distribution: Throughout except southern border and areas around the Great Also found in most of Europe, including Britain, in east to northern Asia. The map shows the Canadian provinces and USA states where the plant can be found.


Arctium lappa is said to be alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, antiphlogistic, aperient, blood purifier, carminative, cholagogue, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, hypoglycemic and stomachic. Arctium lappa is one of the foremost detoxifying herbs in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine. The dried root of one year old plants is the official herb, but the leaves and fruits can also be used. It is used to treat conditions caused by an 'overload' of toxins, such as throat and other infections, boils, rashes and other skin problems. The root is thought to be particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body. The plant is also part of a North American formula called Essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proved or disproved since controlled studies have not been carried out. The plant has soothing, mucilaginous properties and is said to be one of the most certain cures for many types of skin diseases, burns, bruises, etc. It is used in the treatment of herpes, eczema, acne, impetigo, ringworm, bites etc. Recent research has shown that seed extracts lower blood sugar levels. The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use. The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises. The leaves are also poulticed, onto burns, ulcers and sores.

The root can be gathered at the end of the first year of growth when it is fleshy and tender. At this point it can be eaten raw or cooked. Some say the root has an artichoke like flavor.


The photos of the gallery were taken either with one of the following: The title in the window shows the date when the picture was taken, i.e. jan_30_06... would mean that the photo was taken on the 30th of January, the 06 is for the 6th picture taken that day.

The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter:

and if there is no letter it's obviously the Minolta.

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Plantes, petioles

The picture on the left shows young plants, that of the middle a mature plant and the one on the right a cross section of the petiole of a mature plant.

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Flowers, fruits and seeds

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