In Chippewa, wiisagibag meaning bitter leaf, also wiisagijiibik meaning bitter taproot and gi’ masan meaning big stickers. Common burdock is an edible and medicinal wild plant that will stick with you. It’s a favorite of mine!
Burdock’s folk names are predominately along the lines of burr-this or that-burr, like
Edible Uses of Common Burdock
I prefer to take my first coffee of the morning with burdock root tincture, a 1/4 tsp of turmeric, and whichever cream and sweetener I feel like at the moment. A burdock latte. If I haven’t made my own tincture recently, I sometimes get Nature’s Answer Burdock Root with Organic Alcohol, 2-Fluid Ounces off Amazon. Burdock root is another obviously not coffee coffee-substitute, like the dandelion root. I’d rather hide either in my actual coffee or just admit I’m really drinking tea.
The first year basal leaf stocks and young flower stalks of the second year are also highly edible. These are tasty when simmered in maple syrup and can be eaten raw or boiled. Alone they have an artichoke-like taste.
The edible young leaves as per the usual bitter potherbs should be double-boiled.
Rich in Minerals, Fiber, Calcium, Potassium, and Amino Acids
Medicinal Uses of Common Burdock
Burdock is primarily said to support these body systems:
Medicinal tags include
Common usage includes as an ingredient of Essiac tea. And I personally use it as one of my main bitter herbs to support my liver.
Alternative Uses of “Burrseed”
The burrs are just as, if not more terrible than gum in the hair if you want to be a horrible person.
Burdock is easy to grow, but it will overtake the garden if not kept in check. This is one of my main herb allies – I use the roots for medicine. However, it is nonnative and ever since the “hummingbird incident” and learning more about the importance of native plants, I cut the stalks.
Here is the hummingbird I had to rescue from burdock:
I’d heard warnings about it beforehand, but I wasn’t sure how serious to take them until it happened right in front of me. If I hadn’t seen her panicking, I might have been pulling a dead hummingbird off that burdock flower the next day, or I may have not even seen her dangling little body. Sometimes nonnative plants can be dangerous to wildlife who simply didn’t evolve or adapt alongside them. The bright flowers are alluring to hummingbirds, and in one wrong wingbeat they can turn into a lethal trap.
It’s a diuretic.
Wild rhubarb could be mistaken for burdock and its leaves are highly poisonous.
It can cause a rash on sensitive skin.
And the Usual Cautions:
1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.
2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.
3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. Herbalists do not have an official certification yet, but that may be in the works.
4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.
5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.
Iroquois Foods and Food Preparation (1916)
Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants