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Arctium lappa - Great Burdock

Arctium lappa - Great Burdock

This thistle-looking biennial, an herb long cultivated for its tasty root in Japanese cuisine, will astound you with its height and large foliage, while offering numerous medicinal benefits – most notably its detoxifying effect on the body. 

Trivia Fact: The flower’s hooked spines supposedly inspired the inventor of Velcro!

Common Name: Great Burdock, Gobo, Beggar’s Buttons, Thorny Burr, Happy Major

Scientific Name:  Arctium lappa 

Plant Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower) 

Primary Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves, Root, Seed (Fruit), Stem

Medicinal Uses: Alterative, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antiphlogistic, Antipsoriatic, Aperient, Blood purifier,  Carminative, Cholagogue, Depurative, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Hypoglycaemic, Stomachic; Some studies show that it can also help treat acne!

Meaning of Scientific Name: Arctium - ‘Arc’ ‘Arcticus’ ‘Arctica’ ‘Arcticum’ - northern, arctic or relating to constellation of the Bear; ‘Arktos’ a Greek word, also means bear, referring to the plant’s rough coated fruits ; ‘lappa’ - bur, plants bearing burs 

Designing with this Plant

USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-7

Forest garden layer: herbaceous biennial 


  • Plants for a Future Database
  • Latin Dictionary
  • Schmelzer, G. H., & Horsten, S. J. (n.d.). Arctium lappa. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from
  • Whitson, T.D.(ed.), L.C. Burrill, S.A. Dewey, D.W. Cudney, B.E. Nelson, R.D. Lee, R. Parker. 1996. Common burdock. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science, in cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services, Newark, CA.
  • Miglani, A., & Manchanda, R. K. (2014). Clinical: Observational study of Arctium lappa in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Homeopathy103203-207. doi:10.1016/j.homp.2013.12.002