Arctium lappa Linnaeus
The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
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
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
name is said to come from the Greek
(arktos) meaning bear in reference to the shaggy
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.
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
Arctium lappa has also been known as:
- Arctium edule Beger
- Arctium majus (Gaertn.) Bernh.
- Lappa major Gaertn.
- Lappa officinalis All.
This is an unmistakable species.
It is quite conspicuous by its large size and the width of its leaves,
The dense uncinate
phyllaries of the
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
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.
- A large brownish-gray taproot.
- Becoming scaly and wrinkled lengthwise when dry.
- Up to 5 feet, at times 7 feet.
- Grown in the second year, furrowed, reddish,
with woolly branches.
- Large, petiolate.
- The first year forming a dense
the 2nd year distributed alternately on the stem,
larger leaves toward the base.
- Both basal
and stem leaves are oblong,
heart shaped or round, broad, like those on rhubarb,
green and hairy on top and downy gray underneath.
- With even, wavy, or toothed margins.
- Arranged in raceme-like
or in loose flat-topped clusters.
- Over 2.5 cm, and up to 4 cm across, borne on long stalks.
- Small red-violet, pale pink or white
surrounded by numerous hooked
bracts that later form a bur.
- with dark purple stamens
and whitish styles.
- Blooming from July to September.
- pollinated by bees and by
(moths & butterflies).
- Big brown, round, bristly burrs.
- Ripening from September to October.
- One plant can bear as many as 40 000 seeds.
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
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
Arctium lappa is one of the foremost
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
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,
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.
- Fuji Mx 700.
- Minolta DiMAGE 7.
- Nikon 2200.
- EPSON Perfection 1650 scanner.
The month, day and picture number might be followed by a letter:
and if there is no letter it's obviously the Minolta.
- f for the Fuji.
- n for the Nikon.
- s for the EPSON scanner.
Click on the thumbnails to get larger view.
The original photos are usually in TIFF format,
the photos shown are generally in JPEG format,
usually of dimension one half (surface one quarter)
for loading time reduction.
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.
Flowers, fruits and seeds