Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa L.) on Snow
That is the only burdock I’ve seen in our home area this year. Burdock were my bane for years. When we initially moved to the mountain I hadn’t seen any burdock. Then during the early to mid 1990’s I saw the first plants show up at the north end of the road. Some one, probably a bird, had introduced them. Maybe they were in someone’s bird feeder seeds. Gradually the plants spread southward along the sunny side of the road, carried by animals and wind down the valley. They are pretty but a call to battle.
Burdock have medicinal value. Some people eat them. The plants are good food for livestock. The flowers are pretty. The burrs are kind of fun, a natural velcro and great for tossing at each other. So why are they such a bad bane you ask? The first time your sheep get into a mature dried burdock patch in the fall you’ll realize just how awful they are, both the sheep and the plant. Picking many hundreds of dried burr husks out was a nightmare. *sign* And they were both so cute…
The plants get huge, sometimes well over six feet tall and with big elephant ear sized leaves. I’ve dug up massive thick roots that were over six feet long, pulling them up using the tractor. Pain in the petutti to try and get rid of is what they are. I fought back with machete and loppers. We made good progress keeping the plants at bay. It became a holding battle with them creeping in and us slashing them back every year.
Turns out pigs love burdock. They eat the tops – leaves, stalks and flowers. They dig up the roots and eat those too. Burdock are one of their favorite foods. Now there are no burdock where the pigs pasture. Best of all, burdock burrs don’t stick to pigs very well and the few that do for a moment they nibble off each other. I just wish I could pasture the pigs on the sides of the road, moving them up to clean out the valley from this invader. So now when I see burdock in the field I don’t worry. The pigs will eat them before the burrs become a problem getting stuck in the sheep’s wool.
Outdoors: 36째F/14째F Gloriously Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 63째F/56째F