Arctium minus, commonly known as lesser burdock,[2] little burdock, louse-bur, common burdock,[3] button-bur, cuckoo-button,[3] or wild rhubarb,[4] is a biennial plant. This plant is native to Europe,[5] but has become introduced elsewhere such as Australia, North and South America, and other places.[6][7][8][9]

Arctium minus
Flower heads (capitula)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Arctium
A. minus
Binomial name
Arctium minus
(Hill) Bernh. 1800 not Schkuhr 1803
  • Arcion minus Bubani
  • Arctium chabertii Briq. & Cavill.
  • Arctium conglomeratum Schur ex Nyman
  • Arctium euminus Syme
  • Arctium lappa Kalm 1765 not L. 1753
  • Arctium montanum Steud.
  • Arctium pubens Bab.
  • Bardana minor Hill
  • Lappa minor Hill
  • Lappa pubens (Bab.) Boreau

Lesser burdock produces purple flowers in its second year of growth, from July to October. Outer bracts end in hooks that are like hook-and-loop. After the flower head dries, the hooked bracts will attach to humans and animals to transport the entire seedhead.[10]


Arctium minus, Batiscan River banks, Quebec, Canada

Arctium minus can grow up to 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) tall[11] and form multiple branches. It is large and bushy. Flowers are prickly and pink to lavender in color. Flower heads are about 2 cm (0.79 in) wide.[11] The plant flowers from July through October. The flowers resemble and can be easily mistaken for thistles, but burdock can be distinguished by its extremely large (up to 50 cm) leaves and its hooked bracts. Leaves are long and ovate. Lower leaves are heart-shaped and have very wavy margins. Leaves are dark green above and woolly below. It grows an extremely deep taproot, up to 30 cm (12 in) into the ground.[12][13]



The leafstalks (a year old or younger) and flower stalks can be eaten raw or cooked. The roots are edible boiled with a change of water,[11] though become too woody to eat in plants over a year old.[14]


  1. ^ The Plant List Arctium minus (Hill) Bernh.
  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ a b "Arctium minus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2 January 2018.
  4. ^ USDA PLANTS information
  5. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana, Lappola bardana minore Arctium minus (Hill) Bernh. includes photos plus European distribution map
  6. ^ Flora of North America, Vol. 19, 20 and 21 Page 170 Common or lesser burdock, petite bardane, cibourroche, chou bourache, bourrier, Arctium minus (Hill) Bernhardi, Syst. Verz. 154. 1800.
  7. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  8. ^ Marticorena, C. & M. Quezada. 1985. Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Chile. Gayana, Botánica 42: 1–157
  9. ^ Atlas of Living Australia
  10. ^ Rose, Francis (1981). The Wild Flower Key. Frederick Warne & Co. pp. 386–387. ISBN 0-7232-2419-6.
  11. ^ a b c Elias, Thomas S.; Dykeman, Peter A. (2009) [1982]. Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide to Over 200 Natural Foods. New York: Sterling. p. 112. ISBN 978-1-4027-6715-9. OCLC 244766414.
  12. ^ John W. Thieret, William A. Niering, and Nancy C. Olmstead. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region, Revised edition. Chanticleer Press, Inc, 2001. ISBN 0-375-40232-2
  13. ^ Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal, and Joseph M. Ditomaso. Weeds of the Northeast. Cornell University Press, 1997. ISBN 0-8014-8334-4
  14. ^ Benoliel, Doug (2011). Northwest Foraging: The Classic Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Rev. and updated ed.). Seattle, WA: Skipstone. p. 55. ISBN 978-1-59485-366-1. OCLC 668195076.