Arctium minus

Common Burdock

Botanical description: Arctium minus, or common burdock, is not a shy wallflower. "Its roots are stupendous affairs, several inches in diameter and a foot or more deep," states Dr. Fogg in Weeds of Lawn and Garden (1956); the plant is large all over. Arctium develops a giant rosette of leaves with woolly undersides in its first year of growth. In its second year, the plant produces grooved branches to a height of three to five feet, depending on its habitat. The branches are topped with tufts of purple blooms that start appearing in July and can continue through October. Flowers are globe-shaped with hundreds of Velcro-like bracts with hooked tips that aid in dispersal-humans and animals are the most likely vectors. Though a relatively rare sight in many urban habitats, burdock can be found in many types of soil, rich and lean. Arctium's adaptability is probably due to its large, fleshy taproot that anchors it, allows re-sprouting if browsed or weed-whacked, and secures moisture and nutrients from a broad base.