AskDefine | Define burdock

Dictionary Definition

burdock n : any of several erect biennial herbs of temperate Eurasia having stout taproots and producing burs [syn: clotbur]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. Any of the species of biennial thistles in the genus Arctium.

Translations

Extensive Definition

Burdock is any of a group of biennial thistles in the genus Arctium, family Asteraceae. Native to the Old World, several species have been widely introduced worldwide.
Plants of the genus Arctium have dark green leaves that can grow up to 18" (45 cm) long. They are generally large, coarse and ovate, with the lower ones being heart-shaped. They are woolly underneath. The leafstalks are generally hollow. Arctium species generally flower from July through October.
The prickly heads of these plants are noted for easily catching on to fur and clothing, thus providing an excellent mechanism for seed dispersal. and is also low calorie. It also contains polyphenols that causes darkened surface and muddy harshness by formation of tannin-iron complexes though the harshness shows excellent harmonization with pork in miso soup (tonjiru) and Japanese-style pilaf (takikomi gohan).
Dandelion and burdock is a soft drink that has long been popular in the United Kingdom. Burdock is believed to be a galactagogue, a substance that increases lactation.

Traditional medicine

Folk herbalists consider dried burdock to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. The seeds of A. lappa are used in traditional Chinese medicine, under the name niupangzi (; Some dictionaries list the Chinese as just 牛蒡 niúbàng.)
Burdock is a traditional medicinal herb that is used for many ailments. Burdock root oil extract, also called Bur oil, is popular in Europe as a scalp treatment applied to improve hair strength, shine and body, help reverse scalp conditions such as dandruff, and combat hair loss. Modern studies indicate that Burdock root oil extract is rich in phytosterols and essential fatty acids (including rare long-chain EFAs), the nutrients required to maintain a healthy scalp and promote natural hair growth. It combines an immediate relieving effect with nutritional support of normal functions of sebaceous glands and hair follicles.
According to some European herbalists, combining Burdock root oil with a Nettle root oil and massaging these two oils into the scalp every day has a greater effect than Bur oil alone.
Burdock has been used for centuries as a blood purifier clearing the bloodstream of some toxins, and as a diuretic (helping rid the body of excess water by increasing urine output), and as a topical remedy for skin problems such as acne, eczema, rosacea and psoriasis.

Burdock and Velcro

After taking his dog for a walk one day in the early 1940s, George de Mestral, a Swiss inventor, became curious about the seeds of the burdock plant that had attached themselves to his clothes and to the dog's fur. Under a microscope, he looked closely at the hook-and-loop system that the seeds use to hitchhike on passing animals aiding seed dispersal, and he realised that the same approach could be used to join other things together. The result was Velcro.

Tolstoy

The Russian writer Leo Tolstoy wrote in his journal, in 1896, about a tiny shoot of burdock he saw in a ploughed field, “black from dust but still alive and red in the center … It makes me want to write. It asserts life to the end, and alone in the midst of the whole field, somehow or other had asserted it.”

Species

Safety

Because the roots of burdock closely resemble those of Deadly nightshade (also known as belladonna or Atropa belladonna), there is a risk that burdock preparations may be contaminated with these potentially dangerous herbs. Be sure to buy products from established companies with good reputations. Do not gather burdock in the wild unless you know what you are doing.

References

burdock in Danish: Burre
burdock in German: Kletten
burdock in Spanish: Arctium
burdock in Esperanto: Lapo
burdock in Persian: باباآدم
burdock in French: Bardane
burdock in Italian: Arctium
burdock in Lithuanian: Varnalėša
burdock in Dutch: Klit
burdock in Polish: Łopian
burdock in Portuguese: Arctium
burdock in Romanian: Arctium
burdock in Russian: Лопух
burdock in Serbian: Чичак
burdock in Swedish: Kardborrar
burdock in Vietnamese: Chi Ngưu bảng
burdock in Turkish: Dulavratotu
burdock in Samogitian: Varnalieša
burdock in Chinese: 牛蒡
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