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Photo Credit: John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, retrieved from (Image Number: 2155019), used under CC BY 3.0 US, modified from the original

Common Name: Lesser Burdock

Scientific Name: Arctium minus

Habitat: disturbed areas, roadsides, farmland, forests - open areas, wet and dry grassland

Provincial Designation: Noxious

Noxious weeds are plant species designated in the Alberta Weed Control Act. Noxious weeds must be controlled, meaning their growth or spread needs to be prevented.


Lesser burdock, also called common burdock, was introduced from Europe in the 17th century for its medicinal and culinary purposes.

Legislated Because

This species can spread rapidly through the dispersal of its hooked fruits, which attach themselves to clothing and animal fur. These burrs can cause eye, nose, and mouth injuries in livestock. There have also been reported cases of birds and bats becoming entangled and dying in the burrs.


The flower heads of lesser burdock are pink-purple, up to 2.5 cm wide and have stalks that are usually 0-3 cm long.

The leaves are heart-shaped, green on the top side, white on the underside, and are alternately arranged along the stem. The leaf stalks are hollow.

Plants produce large, brown fruits with hooked barbs that are characteristic to this plant.

Found in disturbed areas, it can grow as high as 3 m tall.

Did You Know?

Burdock was the inspiration for Velcro in the early 1940s.

Can Be Confused With

Great Burdock - Arctium minus - and Woolly Burdock - Arctium tomentosum - but who cares - they’re all noxious weeds!  Great Burdock is slightly bigger overall, and Woolly Burdock is fuzzier. 

Learn more about this species:

See Fact Sheets - Alberta Invasive Species Council

For More Information

Weed Identification


In Edmonton: 311

Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311


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