Greater BURDOCK : Arctium lappa
Also known as 'Sticklebacks', 'Sticky Jack' and 'Sticky Bobs'.
The leafs are much like those of dock. But there the simimlarity ends. This plant develops formidable burs. Anywat it is an easy way to remember the name. Burdock is a dock with burs.
The Wildlife Trusts note that Greater burdock is familiar to us as the sticky plant that children delight in, frequently throwing the burs at each other. These hooked seed heads actually help the plant to disperse its seeds by attaching themselves to the fur of passing animals. The flower heads appear from July to September and are attractive to a range of insects, including Painted Lady and Small Tortoiseshell butterflies.
The flower heads of Greater burdock form the basis of the traditional 'Burry Man' parade in Edinburgh - dressed head to toe in burs, he walks about the town.
Some companies produce beverages with burdock, sometimes mixed with dandelion. Look out for them at your local supermarket. Wiki tells us that : Dandelion and burdock shares an origin with a number of drinks originally made from lightly fermented root extracts, such as root beer and sarsaparilla, supposedly as a health benefit. The dominant flavour in these other drinks is usually sassafras or wintergreen, both now derived artificially rather than from the plant itself, in part because during the 1960s, safrole, the major component of the volatile oil of sassafras, was found to be carcinogenic in rats. All of these drinks, while tasting similar, do have their own distinct flavour. Dandelion and burdock is most similar in flavour to sarsaparilla.
Holland and Barrett on the other hand tell us about its health properties : Burdock is root is linked to a whole host of health benefits, including:
High antioxidant content - Oxidative stress contributes to the development of many age-related diseases. Burdock root contains potent antioxidants, including polyphenols. These promote health by combatting free radical damage and reduce oxidative stress throughout the body.
Detoxifying properties - One scientific study found that burdock root’s active ingredients help boost blood circulation and remove toxins from the bloodstream.
Natural aphrodisiac - Although there has yet to be a follow-up study conducted on humans, one study found that male rats who consumed burdock root enjoyed increased sexual behaviour and potency.
These large weeds take advantage of cracks in the wall near the River Leven Barrage.
During June the large burs look formidable.
By the end of June the burs begin to look like thistle heads.
It is well into July and the burs are changing colour.
Some still green; some slightly purple; some already popping open their flowers.
A carder bumble bee enjoys the newly opened flower.