Burdock (Arctium lappa)


A biennial herb that grows to a height of 1.5m and is hardy to zone 5. Burdock likes a deep soil, for its long root to develop. Grow in an open sunny position. It will readily reproduce itself from dropped seed. Roots are dug in fall. Dig before plant sets seed. The large broad green leaves are hairy and paler underneath. The flowers are reddish purple with green hooked bracts. Burdock has deep long roots that are white on the inside and dark brown on the outside. The roots are eaten as a food in Japan they are known as Gobo, they are a good source of dietary fiber and are very nutritious. They can be harvested in spring of their first year or autumn of their second year.

Burdock is native to temperate Europe and Asia and a most popular variety root vegetable in Japan. “Takinogawa” is a special, late-variety burdock that is rich in flavour. This important Japanese vegetable is essential to many classic Japanese dishes including “kimpira,” made with sautéed burdock and carrots. The tap root can be as long as a metre long (36in), they have a texture similar to parsnips and when cooked quickly, retain their crispiness; the outer skin is very thin, similar to carrots.

In England, Burdock is best known as an ingredient in the beverage Dandelion and Burdock, the English equivalent of American root beer. The key flavour profile is anise, perhaps a touch of ginger and spice, but generally a feel of summer, hedgerows and fun!

Burdock is a biennial, producing a rosette of leaves in the first year, then completing its life cycle by flowering and seeding in the second year. Mature plant can reach 3 feet in height. It is easily grown from seed it prefers a deep and sandy garden soil in partial shade or full sun. It may be sown directly from early spring on into summer, with plenty of time left to get a good harvest of roots.

Burdock is the hardiest root vegetable and winters in the garden easily for spring digging. Work the soil deeply for best crop and cook like carrots. Seeds can be sprouted like bean sprouts; nothing goes to waste with this plant.

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