Photo Credit: John D. Byrd, Mississippi State University, retrieved from Bugwood.org (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.
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.