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Similar but less problematic plants:
Echinacea purpurea Echinacea purpurea
Liatris Flowers of L. spicata
Arctium lappa is often confused with:
Arctium minus Arctium minus
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Arctium minus Arctium minus
Oxalis Flowers and Leaves
Lantana camara Lantana camara flower

Thorny Burr Arctium lappa

Previously known as:

  • A. lappa major
Phonetic Spelling
ARK-tee-um LAP-uh
Description

Great Burdock is a weedy, biennial wildflower belonging to the Aster family. Originating in temperate Eurasia centuries ago, it is now widely distributed in many parts of the world. In North America, it readily naturalizes in disturbed areas, empty lots, parks, roadsides, fields and pastures. Growth may become invasive and difficult to contain, competing with beneficial native plants. It is extremely difficult to eradicate due to its deep tap roots and copious amounts of seed that remain viable for a long while even if plants are destroyed. Its first year's growth forms a short, dense rosette of leaves. In its second year, it bolts to heights 2-10 feet, develops very large heart-shaped leaves, purple thistle-like flowers, and slender, fleshy, gray-brown tap roots growing to depths of 3 feet. Clusters of purple flowerheads are arranged in flat-headed cymes, with globular bracts terminating in fine, sharp hooks forming burs that aid in seed dispersal by latching onto animals, birds, or hay bales. Burs are very difficult to remove and reportedly have killed small birds and bats that become entangled. Fruits (achenes) within these burs contain sharp, minute bristles (pappas hairs) that easily become windborne and, if exposed to them, can cause severe eye, skin, and respiratory irritation and/or infection in humans, dogs, horses or other livestock. It prefers full sun locations with moist, well drained soil rich in organic matter and nitrogen. In Asia and other parts of the world, Great Burdock has been cultivated for for its edible roots and medicinal uses. Cultivated plants are sown from seed in summer and first-year roots are harvested by late autumn before becoming too fibrous.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  This plant is weedy, aggressive and difficult to eradicate once established.  It is susceptible to powdery mildew and root rot with potential to impact agricultural plants.  Burs and bristles may cause severe eye, skin or respiratory problems in humans, dogs, horses, and other livestock.  Burs are difficult to remove from animals and clothing.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#edible plant#biennial#weed#purple flowers#weedy#aggressive#problem for dogs#problem for horses#wildflower
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#edible plant#biennial#weed#purple flowers#weedy#aggressive#problem for dogs#problem for horses#wildflower
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Arctium
    Species:
    lappa
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    This plant has been in widespread use for centuries in many parts of the world. Historically, Japan used its roots for food for nearly 1000 years, as well as using roots, leaves, and seeds for medicinal purposes. Europeans also used the plant for both food and medicine. Pilgrims introduced the plant to North America for similar uses. Roots are still widely eaten as a vegetable in Japan, Korea and Taiwan and to a lesser extent in Italy, Portugal and Brazil.
    Life Cycle:
    Biennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Temperate Eurasia
    Distribution:
    Europe, British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia, Middle East, India, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Brazil and Canada. In the U.S., most of the northeastern states, some north-central and western states. In the southeast U.S., it's been introduced to Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
    Wildlife Value:
    Nectar for honeybees and pollinators. Roots are eaten by the larva of Ghost Moth. Some Lepidoptera use the plant as a food source.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    Roots are the primary edible part. Young leaves and immature flower stalks are also edible before flowers appear.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 2 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Weed
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Achenes are oblong and have fine, minute bristles (pappas hairs) on one end that soon fall off and easily become airborne. These can be seriously irritating to humans or other mammals (particularly dogs, horses, or livestock) if exposed to eyes, skin, or the respiratory tract.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Purple globular flowerheads are arranged on stalks in flat-headed cymes approximately 1-1.5 inches in size. Flowerheads are comprised of many disk florets and needle-thin bracts that terminate in a sharp tip with a hook at the end. There are no ray florets on the flowerhead. After flowers whither, bracts turn brown and enclose the flowers, forming a spiked bur covered with looped ends. This design is highly effective in clinging to animal fur, bird feathers or clothing and aids in dispersal of seed. Burs may be very difficult to remove.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are very large and heart shaped (like "elephant ears") with wooly hairs on the underside. The largest leaves are at the base of the plant and decrease in size progressing upward along the stem. Lower leaves have solid stalks (petioles) with a groove on upper surface.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
  • Landscape:
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Spines/Thorns
    Weedy