Arctium minus (Hill) Bernhardi
The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
Arctium minus is an
introduced plant in North America ; it has
naturalized, is ecologically invasive
and is considered as a coarse, unsightly weed that should be eradicated.
Arctium minus is a biennial plant.
During the first year it produces only a
rosette of large leaves
from a long tapering root.
In the second year the plant grows to a large size,
measuring from 3 to 7 feet in height, producing flowers
that appear July until frost.
The flowers are purple and are borne in small clustered heads armed with hooked spines, and
the spiny burs thus formed are a great pest, attaching themselves to clothing
and to the wool and hair of animals.
The plant belongs to the
The genus name is said to come from the Greek
(arktos), meaning bear in reference to the shaggy burrs,
to the rough involucre.
In Latin, minus means minus, less, lesser so that
Arctium minus is the lesser, in fruit size dimension,
of the species of the Arctium genus.
Some of the vernacular names of
Arctium minus are: Common Burdock,
Burdock, Small Burdock, Smaller Burdock, Wild Burdock, Wild Rhubarb,
Cockle Button, Cuckold Dock, Beggar's-Buttons, Hurr-burr,
Stick-button, Hardock and Bardane.
Some of the French vernacular names are:
Petite bardane, Amoureux, Artichaut, Bardane, Bardane microcéphale,
Bardane mineure, Bourrier, Cibourroche, Crakia, Glouteron, Graquias, Grateau,
Grateron, Gratia, Gratte, Gratteron, Herbe aux teigneux, Péterolle, Piquant,
Rhubarbe, Rhubarbe crapaud, Rhubarbe du diable, Rhubarde sauvage, Tabac du
diable, Teigne and Toque.
Such a proliferation of names must be a consequence of the large
and abundant distribution of the plant!
Arctium minus has also been known as:
- Arctium nemorosum
- Arctium pubens
- Lappa minor Hill
This is an unmistakable species.
It is quite conspicuous by its lager size and the width of its leaves,
phyllaries of the
are an excellent characteristic for identification, particularly
when the fruits are mature.
It is quite easy to differentiate from
Arctium lappa, for the later, the flower heads have a much longer
peduncle and are quite bigger;
in Arctium minus, the peduncle is quite short, at time nearly absent.
When not in flower nor in fruits, it is anyway always simple to differenctiate
Arctium minus from Arctium lappa, the
petioles of the former 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!
Arctium minus is a large weed with flowering stems that
may be 1.5 meters tall and with basal and lower leaves may be as large as
half a meter in length and nearly as wide.
The fruiting stems remain upright throughout the next winter.
- Arising from a long fleshy stout
- Greenish to reddish-purple.
- Up to 1.5 m tall or rarely taller.
- Round, fleshy, and much branched.
- The upper branches curved upward to widely spreading.
- Bearing very large leaves,
the lower ones frequently measuring 18 inches in length.
- Alternate on the stem, dark green,
the lower petioles
- With blades
narrowly to very broadly ovate,
the basal ones with
up to about 30 cm long (at times 45) and 25 cm wide,
- The upper much smaller.
- Thinly woolly-hairy (tomentose)
and often eventually almost hairless beneath,
nearly hairless above.
- With margins sinuous to
undulate or commonly
- Several scattered in elongated groups,
as a loose cymes
in upper leaf axils and terminating stems.
- With no or short peduncles.
- With tubular florets only,
pink or purplish or rose-pink above, white below,
with long slender acute lobes
about 1.3 mm long.
- Flowers with 5 stamens,
with purple anthers,
with white bifurcate style.
- With a round involucre,
about 15 to 20 mm thick, hairless or slightly
- The bracts
linear-attenuate, to 1.5 cm long,
(inwardly narrow, pointed, hooked tip),
and reddish at apex,
in several series, overlapping, the inner
bracts often more flattened than the others and scarcely hooked.
- The involucre becoming
slightly enlarged and globose in fruit.
- Blooming from July to October.
- Round bristly bur.
- With grayish-brown oblong achenes,
about 3-angled, multinerved, flat at the tip, hairless.
- With a pappus of
numerous short, chaffy and thin,
separately shed bristles.
Arctium minus can grow in light (sandy), medium
(loamy) and heavy
(clay) soils and
requires well-drained but moist soil.
It can grow as well in the sun as in semi-shade.
Arctium minus grows along roadsides and in fields, pastures, and waste
places, disturbed sites, hedgerows, fencerows, shores, thickets, open forests,
All the provinces of Canada.
All of the USA but Florida; very abundant in the eastern and central US States
and in some scattered localities in the west. Temperate Eurasia. The map shows
the Canadian provinces and USA states where the plant can be found.
The root of Arctium minus is edible raw or cooked.
The best roots are obtained from young plants.
They are usually peeled and sliced.
The roasted root is a coffee substitute as well.
Young leaves and leaf stems are edible raw or cooked,
and have been used as a potherb. They are
It is best to remove the rind
from the stem. Young flowering stems are edible, peeled and
eaten raw or cooked like asparagus. Seed sprouts are reportedly edible too.
Arctium is one of the foremost
in both Chinese and Western herbal medicine.
Arctium lappa is the main species used, though Arctium minus
has similar properties. 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. The root is thought to be
particularly good at helping to eliminate heavy metals from the body.
The plant has agents that are antibacterial,
and that expel gas from the intestines.
It 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
boils, bites etc.
The plant can be taken internally as an infusion, or used externally as a wash.
It should be used with caution. One-year old roots contain agents
that cause gradual beneficial change in the body,
act as a mild laxative,
blood purifier, increase the flow of bile and its discharge from the body,
eliminate toxins and purify the system, especially the blood.
The seeds induce perspiration and urine production
and aid and improve the action of the stomach.
The crushed seed is poulticed onto bruises.
The seed is harvested in the summer and dried for later use.
The seed contains arctiin, this excites the central nervous system,
producing convulsions and increase in
respiration, and later paralysis if taken in larger quantities.
It also lowers the blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels.
A fiber is obtained from the inner bark and is used to make paper. It is about
0.9 mm long. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves are removed and
the stems steamed in order to strip off the fiber. The fibers are then cooked
for two hours in soda ash before being put in a ball mill for 2 hours. The
resulting paper is a light tan or brown color.
Arctium and Velcro
After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral,
a Swiss inventor, became curious about the fruits of the burdock plant that had
attached themselves to his clothes and to the dog's fur. Under a microscope, he
looked closely at the hook-and-loop system that the seeds have evolved to
hitchhike on passing animals and aid dispersion, and he realized that the same
approach could be used to join other things together. The result was Velcro.
Many plant species have 'Velcro' systems, Galium aparine, the
Bidens spp., Xanthium strumarium, etc., that allow their seed
to hook on animal fleece in order to be carried away,; this is called
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,
the next one is a plant in winter,
and the one on the right is a cross section of the petiole of a mature plant.
Fruits ands seeds
The plant with the fruits photographed below was growing inside a shed,
close to the door. The background of the picture at the right is the planks of