Foraging Wild Shoots: Common Burdock

Rapidly growing flower stalk

Common Burdock (Arctium minus) is a biennial well known for having sticky burs and an earthy, edible taproot.  As is typical with biennials, the root of this species becomes tough and woody when the plant moves stored energy reserves up to a developing flower stalk (typically in the spring of year two). The result is a leafy stem with flowers and ultimately seeds.  In late spring and early summer, the tender, rapidly growing portion of Common Burdock's stalk can be harvested, peeled and eaten raw or cooked. I peel these shoots by hand, then touch them up by scraping them clean with a sharp knife. The following photos show the process of gathering and processing this mild-tasting, wild vegetable (click on any photo for a slide show).

Note: The related Great Burdock (A. lappa) can be processed similarly.

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