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Burdock is an invasive plant that causes problems for livestock and crops, and is generally considered a noxious weed. The tall burdock plant, a native of Eurasia, is a biennial, which means it lives for two growing seasons. The first year, it merely grows leaves and accumulates food reserves in its roots, like a carrot. The second it grows a long, deep taproot, and a tall stalk, producing flowers that become burrs that spread the seed by latching onto the hair of livestock and other animals or in baled hay or straw.

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Burdock flowers in late summer, producing a composite seed head that matures by mid-August in southern areas and later in northern climates. Ripe burrs consist of hundreds of tiny hooked slivers, and if these get into an animal’s eye they cause severe irritation — especially if caught under an eyelid where they continually scrape the eyeball every time the animal blinks.

Eye problems often occur in fall and winter when the burrs are ripe and dry, whereas pink eye is more common in summer fly season. But dry burrs remaining on old plants can cause problems any time of year.

The hooks on the tiny burr slivers attach like hook fasteners.

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“This is one of the concerns we hear from cattle producers when cattle are off the home ranch, grazing outer areas where they are not seen daily, says Dave Ralph, project manager of the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia. “The ranchers may not have an opportunity to see their animals for long periods of time. When you have to bring an animal off the range pasture to do any veterinary work it becomes a big inconvenience and an extra expense.”

Of approximately 30 different regional districts in B.C., nine list burdock as a noxious weed. In Alberta it is listed under the Schedule 2 list of noxious weeds.

“They can also affect sale price of animals if a producer is unable to remove them prior to putting them on the market,” adds Ralph. “In some instances buyers refuse to take animals with burrs. No one wants to bring burdock seeds to their ranch.”

Even in areas where there are no agricultural operations, burdock is a concern for wildlife, particularly birds and bats that get tangled up in old burrs.

“This has contributed to a reduction in bat populations,” he says.

Burdock

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“In B.C. burdock may not be as much of a priority as some of the agencies or industry would like to see it, but we deal with a lot of weeds. In certain areas and certain times, resources are sometimes unavailable to manage burdock. On Crown lands the provincial government is the landowner/occupier and does allow a certain amount of its budget for contractors to control burdock, but primarily burdock control is carried out on private lands,” Ralph explains.

“In areas that are not along riparian zones or water courses, we can use residual broadleaf herbicides, but in areas adjacent to lakes, streams or creeks, we have a pesticide moratorium for 10 metres (30 feet) above high water mark. There is almost no use of herbicides in those zones and we have to rely on manual or mechanical control.” In these locations the plants can be chopped, mowed or pulled up.

“Burdock has a large root, however, and unless the soil is very moist so you can pull or dig it up, you only get the top growth and it will come up again from the root. Some producers repeatedly cut the plants, to keep them from going to seed. In a biennial like burdock, this just extends its life, but eventually the plants will die off in three or four years. The people who have success digging it up say you have to get at least two or more inches of the root to have a chance of killing the plant.

The seeds remain viable for two to 10 years, however, so even if you keep chopping down or digging up the current plants new plants may keep coming up for several years. This can be a long-term battle.

Burdock can invade new forage seedings, and establish faster than more desirable species. Its thick fibrous stalk can also create problems for harvesting equipment.

It pays to try to prevent getting it in your fields and pastures in the first place. “People buying forage or livestock should always check for any noxious weed seeds or structures — in case it might have been baled up in hay or straw. Check the source of your feed and any new animals you bring onto your place,” he says.

The tenacious burrs are a very effective means of spreading seed. If you look at the tiny burr slivers with magnification, their hooks are almost identical to a Velcro fastener.

“It’s very hard to remove them from clothing or fur and hair. I’ve heard that if you wet down the animal, the burrs come loose easier, but I am not sure about that. A person could try it, however, if burrs are stuck to their cattle, horses or pets,” Ralph says.

“The good thing about burdock is that it is a plant that people can remove,” says Gail Wallin, executive director of the council. “You can actually hand pull it out if the soil is moist, and this is often a good approach,” she says. “Community groups will often take action on it.”

B.C. has two species of burdock: Arctium lappa, great burdock, typically found in the northern regions of the province, up around the Peace region, and Arctium minus or common burdock in the southern and coastal regions.

Controlling burdock

Spraying

Dr. Don Morishita, University of Idaho professor of weed science, says several broadleaf herbicides will kill burdock,if applied properly. Burdock plants are easiest to kill in the first year of their life cycle when they remain in a rosette stage.

“Apply spray at a time when the plant is putting food into the root, since you have to get herbicide into the root to kill the plant. Use a broadleaf herbicide that can move down into the root. If you spray early in the spring you generally kill new young sprouts and last year’s rosettes (plants that are trying to create more food reserves in their root for their big push to complete second- year growth and make burrs). You have to spray very early to get the second- year plant. After the stalk comes up it is harder to kill with herbicides because the plant is sending food up from the roots instead of down,” he says.

When using herbicides to kill burdock or other biennial and perennial weeds, don’t overdo it.

“If you use too much, it quickly kills the top-growth leaves and doesn’t get down into the taproot. The root survives, to regrow. You want a slower kill so the leaves survive long enough to transfer the herbicide down into the root, to kill the whole plant.”

He also cautions against using anything other than broadleaf herbicides. “Burdock is a bare-ground plant; it doesn’t grow well where there’s a lot of grass cover or competing plants. Don’t use anything that would kill the grass, because grass tends to inhibit regrowth of burdock.”

Chopping is also effective, but you must do it at the right time or the plant will regrow from the root. “The best time to chop it is after the stalk is budding but before burrs are ripe. At that point the food reserves are so low in the root that it cannot regrow,” says Morishita.

How to Get Rid of Burdocks

Anyone who owns a dog that has gotten into burdocks already knows the pain these lowly weeds growing on your property can bring. These aggressive weeds grow to heights of 4 feet or more and produce an abundance of burrs that cling to anyone and anything that crosses their path. Getting rid of burdocks requires patience and work, but the result is well worth the time invested.

Pull burdocks in early spring while the soil is wet. Although some will resist your efforts, most will pull free with the long taproot attached. Dig with a spade to remove any roots that break or resist your efforts. Without the taproot, the burdock will not return. Failure to pull the taproots in spring results in new plants growing from the old root.

Pour white distilled vinegar on young burdock leaves as soon as they appear. Soak the entire leaves and allow vinegar to saturate the root. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar to get those hard-to-reach areas. Within a day or two, the leaves will die and turn brown. Pull the leaves and as much of the root as possible.

In areas where the roots are inaccessible, keeping the leaves cut might be the only choice. Mow or cut any new leaves that sprout to prevent plants from growing. Eventually, the plants will die if leaves are removed regularly.

Check the area often for any signs of new growth and apply vinegar or cut away the leaves immediately.

Effective control of common burdock doesn’t happen overnight and is most successful when you can control new seedlings in the spring followed by controlling any larger first year plants in the fall so that they don’t overwinter, flower and disperse new seed the following year . Common burdock (Arctium minus) is a biennial that reproduces only by seed. Following seed germination in the spring, burdock will grow into a large leafy rosette plant with a large taproot that allows it to overwinter. In the second year of growth, burdock will flower and produce the “clingy” burrs that many have pulled off their clothing or the fur of a beloved pet. Each burr will contain about 30-40 seeds and an entire plant can produce anywhere from 9,800 – 17,000 seeds.

If you’ve made note of where you’ve seen a lot of burdock on your property, go to that spot in late April and you should see both established plants with large leaves that have emerged from the large taproot and young seedlings that have germinated from seed in the spring (Figure 1).

Figure 1- Two different stages of burdock on April 30, 2015. The large overwintering plant that has emerged from the large taproot (left) and several small seedlings that have recently germinated and are at the cotyledon stage (right).

If we look to herbicides for the management of burdock, although the young seedling plants are relatively easy to kill in the spring (Table 2), the larger over-wintered plants are more easily controlled the previous fall then in the spring. Table 1 summarizes how effective five different herbicides were at managing large established burdock rosettes when applied by me in late September of 2014.

Table 1. Control of established burdock and new seedling plants after herbicide applications in late September

Herbicide Rate/acre Established plants

Control – 21 days

Established plants

Control – April

New Seedlings Control – April
MCPA Ester 600 660 mL 40% 100% 0%
2,4-D Ester 700 520 mL 40% 100% 0%
Banvel II 500 mL 50% 100% 0%
Glyphosate 540 g/L 670 mL 50% 100% 0%
Enlist Duo 1.7 L 60% 100% 0%

A couple of things should stand out to you in Table 1. First, not a single treatment applied in the fall is all that impressive when looking at it several weeks after application, but be patient, control of those plants in the spring has been very good (Figure 2).

Figure 2 – The influence of fall applied herbicides on established burdock plants during in late April. On the left, an un-sprayed area from last fall and on the right a fall applied herbicide treatment.

Secondly, nothing applied in the fall stopped seed from germinating in the spring. Management of these seedlings in early May, with either tillage or herbicides is important to stop the cycle of established overwinter plants that eventually produce seed. Figure 3 shows a significant flush of new seedling plants coming through a treatment that was successful at removing the established plants.

Figure 3 – Although effective at controlling established plants, none of the fall treatments stopped new plants from germinating and emerging from seed. These seedlings are much easier to control at this stage (with either tillage or herbicides listed in Table 2) compared to letting them get bigger.

Re-cap: Apply effective herbicides in the fall to manage established rosette plants and then deal with young seedlings that have germinated in the spring with tillage or effective herbicides. This may have to be repeated for a few seasons since the seed in the soil is believed to still be viable after 2-3 seasons.

Table 2. Herbicides that list seedling common burdock on their label as being controlled.

Trade Name Active Ingredient Herbicide group
2,4-D (numerous formulations) 2,4-D 4
MCPA (numerous formulations) MCPA 4
Glyphosate (numerous formulations Glyphosate 9
Xtendimax, Engenia, Banvel II dicamba 4
Estaprop Xt dichlorprop/2,4-D 4
Trophy fluroxypyr + MCPA 4,4
Simplicity pyroxsulam 2
Pixxaro halauxifen/fluropxypr + MCPA 4,4,4
Blackhawk Pyraflufen-ethyl/2,4-D ester 4,14
Enlist Duo 2,4-D choline/glyphosate 4,9
Barricade M tribenuron/thifensulfuron + fluroxypyr + MCPA 2,2,4,4

Burdock Plant Stock Photos and Images

(2,478) Narrow your search: Vectors | Black & white | Page 1 of 25

  • Silhouette of propagating burdock plant ( arctium , Asteraceae )
  • Greater Burdock, Edible Burdock, Lappa Burdock (Arctium lappa), plant with roots, studio picture.
  • articum lappa
  • Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa), flower bud, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • SEED DISPERSAL THESE BURDOCK SEEDS ARCTIUM MINUS GET A FREE RIDE FROM A YOUNG SOW
  • A young burdock, Arctium minus, plant in spring, April
  • Cotton burdock (Arctium tomentosum)
  • Close Up Of Burdock Plant
  • !st year burdock plant, will flower in its second year, part of the plant is used for the drink burdock.
  • Burdock plant or Arctium tomentosum in Latin flowering on green lawn in summertime, close-up
  • A Comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album, feeding on a flowering burdock plant on the banks of the Dorset Stour river near Sturminster Newton. Dorset Engl
  • young plant burdock with flowers and leaf
  • Burdock plant.
  • Wild burdock plant, uk
  • Frosted, prickly burr, seedhead of the burdock plant in wintertime
  • Arctium lappa (Greater burdock), flowers and leaves
  • Blooming Burdock Plant Flower Medicinal Herb Close-up
  • Burdock Plant
  • Sticky Bobs – heads of the plant know as Stick Bob, or Lesser Burdock
  • Silhouette of propagating burdock plant
  • Downy Burdock (Arctium tomentosum), twig with flowers, studio picture.
  • Violet flowers of a burdock plant in summer during flowering
  • The prickly Herb Burdock plant or Arctium plant from the Asteraceae family. This one grows wild in Hertfordshire on the banks of the river Stort.
  • Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus). Wild flower plant at home in Scotlands more loamy valley soils. UK. Seed pods
  • Lesser burdock, Arctium minus, flowering plant in woodland edge, Berkshire, July
  • burdock, Arctium lappa
  • Wild Burdock ‘Asteraceae’ heats, England, UK
  • Common Burdock (Arctium minus)
  • Branch of Burdock plant or Arctium tomentosum in Latin flowering on green meadow in summertime, close-up
  • A Comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album, feeding on a flowering burdock plant on the banks of the Dorset Stour river near Sturminster Newton. Dorset Engl
  • young plant burdock with flowers and leaf
  • Burrs on burdock plant.
  • Spiked Seed heads or Burs or Burrs of an Arctium or Burdock plant
  • Frosted, prickly burr, seedhead of the burdock plant in wintertime
  • Green burdock.
  • Blooming Burdock Plant Flower Medicinal Herb Close-up
  • Burdock Plant
  • Sticky Bobs – heads of the plant know as Stick Bob, or Lesser Burdock
  • Silhouette of propagating burdock plant
  • Downy Burdock (Arctium tomentosum), plant with hairy flowers.
  • Arctium lappa – Greater burdock
  • The prickly Herb Burdock plant or Arctium plant from the Asteraceae family. This one grows wild in Hertfordshire on the banks of the river Stort.
  • Lesser burdock, Arctium minus, Burweed, Spear Thistle
  • Burdock plant nature close-up
  • burdock, Arctium lappa
  • Peacock butterfly (inachis io) settled with wings open on a burdock plant
  • Wilted burdock in winter
  • close up of greater burdock (Arctium lappa)
  • A Comma butterfly, Polygonia c-album, feeding on a flowering burdock plant on the banks of the Dorset Stour river near Sturminster Newton. Dorset Engl
  • macro of thorny flower. (Arctium lappa) on green background
  • A close up image of a dried burdock plant with the burrs.
  • Spiked Seed heads or Burs or Burrs of an Arctium or Burdock plant
  • Frosted, prickly burr, seedhead of the burdock plant in wintertime
  • European goldfinch on burdock plant in winter
  • Green burdock
  • Burdock Plant
  • seeds of greater burdock in the early morning light
  • Silhouette of propagating burdock plant
  • Blooming plant spines with a purple flower and a blurred green background. There are still spikes out of focus. Vertical frame.
  • European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis adult perched on Burdock plant in seed
  • The prickly Herb Burdock plant or Arctium plant from the Asteraceae family. This one grows wild in Hertfordshire on the banks of the river Stort.
  • Aglais urticae butterfly on Great Burdock (Arctium lappa) plant
  • Burdock plant nature close-up
  • Painted Lady Butterfly (cynthia cardui) on Lesser Burdock Plant, England UK
  • Peacock butterfly (inachis io) settled with wings open on a burdock plant
  • articum lappa
  • burdock plant early misty morning
  • Lesser Burdock (Arctium minus) seedheads (burrs) showing velcro-like hooks that catch on animal fur, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK. April.
  • young plant burdock with flowers and leaf
  • Button (arctium) leaf
  • Burdock plant, Arctium species
  • Agrimony or burdock wild blooming plant close up macro photo
  • European goldfinch on burdock plant in winter
  • Burdock Arctium lappa or family, Asteraceae Biennial plant to flower which clings to clothing and hair of animals was originally the invention of
  • Flowers of a plant Greater burdock (Arctium láppa) on a black and white background. Concept. Vertical shot. Front view.
  • greater burdock from up close with shallow depth of field
  • Silhouette of propagating burdock plant
  • Blooming plant spines with a purple flower with a bumblebee and a blurred green background. There are still spikes out of focus. Vertical frame.
  • Burdock plant. Background close-up of a green leaf with veins.
  • The prickly Herb Burdock plant or Arctium plant from the Asteraceae family. This one grows wild in Hertfordshire on the banks of the river Stort.
  • burdock plant seeds covered with white shiny frost crystals in winter Christmas Park
  • Burdock plant in flower against a bright blue summer sky
  • Painted Lady Butterfly (cynthia cardui) on Lesser Burdock Plant, England, UK
  • Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (aglais urticae) settled with wings open on a burdock plant
  • Healthy Burdock plant isolated on white background. Natural remedy medicine. Arctium. Healing herb.
  • Wild herb of Thistle or Silybum marianum or Burdock. Herbal Thistle Burdock plant, used in medicine and as symbol of Scotland. Plant is rich in minera
  • Prickly heads of burdock plant. Blurred nature on the background.
  • Dry seeds burdock heads with hooks, Wood Burdock, Arctium nemorosum. Hitchhiker plant
  • Button (arctium) leaf
  • Morning dew water droplets through sunlight on burdock plant. Uk
  • Arctium lappa, commonly called greater burdock, lappa, beggar’s buttons, thorny burr, or happy major, traditional medicinal plant
  • European goldfinch on burdock plant in winter
  • Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum close-up of an adult female at rest on a Burdock plant
  • Blooming Bur Plant
  • Flowering Great Burdock (Arctium lappa), close up view
  • Silhouette of propagating burdock plant
  • Burdock plant
  • Lesser Burdock flowers – Arctium minus Large Woodland Plant
  • Greater burdock or Arctium lappa or Edible burdock or Lappa or Gobo or Beggars buttons or Thorny burr or Happy major biennial plant
  • burdock plant seeds covered with white shiny frost crystals in winter Christmas Park

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Search Results for Burdock Plant Stock Photos and Images

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Great Burdock
Arcticum lappa

Family:
Asteraceae

Description: Biennial 0.6-2.7 meter (2-9 ft) plant with large, rhubarb-like leaves. Thick, grooved stalk. Flowers are reddish-purple and thistle-like. Flowers present July through October. Brown, spikey seed pods or “burs” stick to animal fur and clothing.

Location:
Found in waste places and disturbed soils. Ranges from Canada to North Carolina.

Uses and Parts Used:

Leaves:
Leaf tea used in China to treat vertigo, rheumatism, and measles. Leaf wash used to treat hives, eczema, and other minor skin irritations. Leaf poultice used for burns, ulcers, and sores.

Roots:
Root tea (2 ounces dried root in 1 quart water) used traditionally as a “blood purifier,” also diuretic, stimulate for digestion and sweating. Used to treat gout, liver and kidney ailments, rheumatism, and gonorrhea. Roots contain high levels of inulin, traditionally used to treat diabetes.

Flowers:
antibacterial

Seeds:
diuretic, thought to be antiseptic. Also used for sore throat, insect bites and snakebites, flu, constipation, scarlet fever, and smallpox.

Notes:
Leaf hairs may be a skin irritant. Leaves may be confused with those of rhubarb, which are toxic.

Burdock Management: Tips For Controlling Common Burdock Weeds

Burdock weeds are troublesome plants that grow in pastures, along ditches and roadsides and in many other disturbed areas across the United States. The weed is recognized by its large, oval or triangular “elephant-ear” leaves. The upper surface of the dark green leaves may be smooth or hairy and the lower leaf surface is typically wooly and pale green. The plant bolts in the second year and can reach heights of 3 to 10 feet. The small flowers, which are numerous, may be lavender, white, purple or pink.

Why are burdock weeds so troublesome, and why is burdock management so critical? Read on to find out how to get rid of this weed.

Reasons for Controlling Common Burdock

It’s extremely difficult to eradicate burdock. Seeds spread quickly when the seed heads dry and break, scattering thousands of seeds far and wide. The weeds also spread when the prickly burs catch a ride on passing people or animals.

Some people may experience unpleasant allergic reactions when the bristles contact the skin. The burs can cause real problems for livestock, resulting in eye infections, skin problems and mouth sores.

The plant can also host root rot, powdery mildew and other diseases that can spread to agricultural plants.

How to Kill Burdock

Digging, hand pulling or plowing can be effective ways of controlling common burdock when the weeds are small. These techniques don’t work well on larger plants because it’s difficult to remove the entire taproot. You can mow taller plants, but mowing must be done before the plant has bloomed or you will simply spread the seeds.

A number of herbicides are useful for controlling common burdock, including dicamba, 2,4-D, picloram, glyphosate and others. Unfortunately, burdock often grows in difficult, hard-to-access areas. Manual removal is often the only recourse as well as the most environmentally friendly.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and much more environmentally friendly.

Figure 1. On April 30, 2015, leaves have emerged from the large taproot and tower over newly emerged seedlings.

Photo: Supplied

Table 1

Photo: Supplied

Figure 2. On the left, an unsprayed area from last fall versus, on the right, a fall-applied herbicide treatment.

Photo: Supplied

Figure 3. Although effective at controlling established plants, none of the fall treatments stopped new seedlings.

Photo: Supplied

Knowing how this plant reproduces will influence how you manage it. Burdock is biennial and reproduces only by seed. Following seed germination in the spring, burdock will grow into a large leafy rosette plant with a large taproot that allows it to overwinter. In the second year, burdock will flower and produce the burrs we all know. Each burr will contain about 30 to 40 seeds, with an entire plant producing anywhere from 9,800 to 17,000 seeds.

In late April, go where you’ve seen burdock and you should find both established plants with large leaves that have emerged from the large taproot as well as young seedlings that have germinated from seed in the spring (Figure 1).

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Although the young seedling plants are easy to kill in the spring, the larger overwintered plants are more easily controlled the previous fall. Table 1 lists the results when herbicides were sprayed against large established burdock rosettes in late September 2014 and evaluated in spring 2015.

A couple of things stand out in Table 1. First, none of the fall treatments were all that impressive several weeks after application. But be patient: control of those plants in the spring has been very good (Figure 2). Second, nothing applied in the fall stopped seed from germinating in the spring. Management of these seedlings in early May with either tillage or herbicides is important to stop the cycle of established overwintered plants that eventually produce seed. Figure 3 shows a significant flush of new seedling plants coming through a treatment that was successful at removing the established plants.

Recap: Apply effective herbicides against established rosette plants in the fall and then deal with young seedlings in the spring with tillage or effective herbicides. Because seed may be viable for two or three years, this may need to be repeated.

Have a question you want answered? Hashtag #PestPatrol to @cowbrough or email Mike at

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