Arctium lappa L.

great burdock

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Great burdock is introduced from Eurasia and widely naturalized in North America. Like common burdock (Arctium minus) the taproots and young shoots are edible, and it is sometimes grown as a minor crop. Extracts are sold as food supplements, to treat skin conditions such as acne, sores, and exzema. It is also considered an immune system stimulator.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf type
leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
Flower type in flower heads
the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
Ray flower color
NA
Tuft or plume on fruit
at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
Spines on plant
the plant has no spines
Leaf blade length
250–800 mm
Flower head width
30–45 mm
Disk flower number
  • 1-5
  • 11-20
  • 21-50
  • 6-10
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Bases of bract appendages
    NA
    Bract color
    • the bracts are colored, or at least tinged with, pink, red or purple
    • the bracts are not colored or tinged with pink, red or purple
    Bract cycle number
    there are three or more cycles of bracts
    Bract margins
    there are fine hairs along the bract margins
    Bract outer side hair type
    • the bracts are hairy, with simple hairs on their outer surface
    • the bracts are not hairy on their outer surface
    Bract outer side hairs
    • the bracts are hairy on their outer surfaces
    • the bracts are not hairy on their outer surfaces
    Bract shape
    • the main bracts are lanceolate (widest above the base, then taper narrowly towards the tip)
    • the main bracts are linear (long and very narrow)
    Bract spines
    there is just one simple spine at the tip of the bract
    Disk flower color
    • blue to purple
    • white
    Disk flower lobe number
    5
    Disk flower number
    • 1-5
    • 11-20
    • 21-50
    • 6-10
    Disk flower reproductive parts
    the disk flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower head outer flowers
    at the outer edge of the flower head, the flowers have no enlarged lobe or strap, and are of similar size as those in the center of the disk
    Flower head platform
    the base has fine, short hairs on it
    Flower head profile
    the disk is flat or nearly flat across the top
    Flower head shape
    the flower head is hemispherical (like the bottom half of a sphere)
    Flower head width
    30–45 mm
    Flower type in flower heads
    the flower head has disk flowers only, and lacks the strap-shaped flowers
    Height of flower head base
    15–25 mm
    Inflorescence branching (Solidago)
    NA
    Inflorescence shape
    the inflorescence is flat-topped in profile
    Ovary attachment
    the ovary is attached at or near the base
    Ovary cross-section
    the ovary is compressed (flattened)
    Ovary hair type
    the ovary has no hairs on it
    Ovary hairs
    the ovary has no hairs on it
    Ovary profile
    • in profile, the ovary is oblong (roughly rectangular but rounded at the ends)
    • in profile, the ovary is roughly egg-shaped, but widest above the middle
    Ovary surface
    the ovary surface is textured with tiny points, bumps or wrinkles
    Peduncle hair type
    the hairs on the peduncles have glands at their tips
    Peduncle hairs
    the peduncles are hairy
    Peduncle length
    25–60 mm
    Ray flower color
    NA
    Ray flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Ray flowers
    0
    Ray length
    0 mm
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers on the plant contain both carpels and stamens
    Smaller bracts at base of bracts
    there is no smaller, outer cycle of bracts
    Width of flower head base
    25–45 mm
  • Fruits or seeds
    Dispersal unit
    the entire flower head falls off or disperses as a unit
    Ovary length in developed fruit
    6–7.5 mm
    Seed hair tuft color
    the pappus hairs are white or off-white
    Seed hair tuft details
    the pappus hairs are hooked or barbed
    Seed hair tuft length
    2–5 mm
    Seed hairs uniform
    all the pappus hairs are approximately the same length
    Seed tuft scale number
    0
    Seed tuft type
    the pappus is made of very fine hairs or bristles
    Top of disk flower ovary
    NA
    Tuft or plume on fruit
    at least a part of the plume is made up of fine bristles
  • Glands or sap
    Leaf blade glands
    the leaf blades have glandular (translucent) dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant has one or more free-standing stems
    Plant lifespan
    the plant is biennial, it appears as either first year (non-reproductive) plants or second year plants with flowers or fruit
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    there is a thickened taproot on the plant
  • Leaves
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment width (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Hairs on underside of leaf blade
    the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Hairs on upper side of leaf blade
    • the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or has very few hairs
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct petiole
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf is cordate (heart-shaped) or sagittate (arrow-shaped)
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has no teeth or lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade has teeth
    Leaf blade hairs
    • the leaf blade has hairs with glands at their tips
    • the leaf blade has tangled or woolly-looking hairs
    Leaf blade length
    250–800 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    there is no noticeable color variation on the upper surface of the leaf
    Leaf blade tip
    the tip of the leaf blade is rounded, with no point
    Leaf blade width
    200–700 mm
    Leaf disposition
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk length
    150–360 mm
    Leaf tip extension
    NA
    Leaf type
    leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaflet number
    0
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    At least 0
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of an odor
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Stem bloom
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem internode hair type
    • the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Stem internode hairs
    the stem has hairs between the nodes
    Stem wings
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Not classified

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
not applicable (S-rank: SNA)

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Arctium minus:
bur-like flower heads 15-25 mm wide and array of flower heads not flat-topped (vs. A. lappa, with bur-like flower heads 25-45 mm wide and array of flower heads flat-topped).
Arctium tomentosum:
involucres 15-25 mm wide, the bracts tomentose, and corollas glandular pubescent (vs. A. lappa, with involucres 25-45 mm wide, the bracts glabrous or thinly pubescent, and corollas glabrous).

Family

Asteraceae

Genus

Arctium

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Arctium lappa L. E

great burdock. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Fields, roadsides, vacant lots.