Wild Arkansas

June 1, 2011

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Filed under: arctium — Tags: , , , — WildArkansas @ 10:25 pm

The proliferation of burdock in NW Arkansas has some scrambling to rid the field via chemicals; and though I sympathize with the plight of the farmer, I also know that if the same energy to rid themselves of plant were put into harvesting it, some may actually find they like it. It’s edible.

And it’s palatable.

Steve Brill has a couple of videos on identification and some great recipes.

If on a foraging expedition in the area, try helping some of the local farmers out and offer to harvest the plant for them.

Right now the larger plants may be too tough to harvest, but if you can find some smaller specimen, the stems should be fine.

Harvest before the flower stalk appears.

Here are a couple of recipes from Gardenweb:

1 burdock root
2 tablespoons vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons mirin(optional)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. soak burdock (thinly sliced about 0.25 inch) in water enough to cover all the burdock.
2. drizzle 2 table spoons of vinegar in the water.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan over high heat.
4. Add burdock to the pan until cooked through-a bit transparent.
5. Reduced to low heat. Add 3 tablespoons of soysauce, 2 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of mirin. Cook until the sauce is reduced.
6. Sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds.


My mother raised us eating a burdock recipe that is delicious. Collect young-ish leaf stems. The white ones are better but if they have that touch of red which they will acquire as they mature, they are still fine. Boil stems with baking soda for 5-10 minutes to rid them of the fuzziness and make them tender and then dip them in flour and egg and saute as a sort of vegetable tempura. My mother comes from an old yankee background (she got the recipe from her mother) but soy sauce is an excellent addition for dipping. This is actually my favorite vegetable of all. I am probably the only person here that would be happy to have a yard full of burdock.



  1. I thought I had burdock, a couple of roots worth, but I’m thinking now it might be thistle instead. The leaves and stems are so thorny I’m still hurting, and there weren’t any big leaves on the bottom. A tall, straight, spiny stalk with purple coming out of the burrs (and a couple white). I found them along the road in Crawford County.

    What road would you ride between Fort Smith and Bentonville to see burdock this time of the year?


    Comment by Donna — October 6, 2011 @ 12:14 am

  2. Hi Donna.

    What you have described sounds like bull thistle. There are no specific “burdock” finding places that I know of, but you can find quite a bit of it along fence lines and bordering pasture land. It sprouts up everywhere in these areas.

    I know Steve Brill also has written extensively about burdock, so you may want to give his website a look. In this area though, drive out in the country (just about anywhere) and start looking. I’m sure the farmers will thank you. Please make sure the area you gather from is environmentally safe. That is, they have not sprayed chemicals in the area. And you may also want to check with the farmer before harvesting on private land.


    Comment by WildArkansas — October 6, 2011 @ 1:38 am

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