I’m finally getting around to the task of garbling our Burdock seed harvest. I have a basketful of Burdock (Arctium spp.) seed heads so this will be a painstaking task! Ross was laughing at me earlier all decked out in my gloves, mask and heavy apron for the job.
Dog and cat owners may recognise the seeds heads from having to pull them from a tangled mess of hair! Our wee puppy Yogi often comes in with these sticky seed balls attached to his ears and hates us having to remove them.

The kids love to throw them around in the same way they do with Cleavers in the hope they attach to our backs without us noticing – great craic! Getting Burdock stuck on you is a hazard of weeding in our garden ? This plants seed head has such a clever way of spreading itself as it hitches a ride on a passing animal – or human. This method is so effective that the hook and loop system of Velcro was originally inspired by Burdock’s latch.
Therefore, garbling Burdock seed heads needs a little more care than other plants and is a labour of love. The fine hairs from the chaff of the seeds can irritate if they get onto your clothes and skin and if you inhale it! Between the velcro like seed pods and the fine itchy hairs it’s best to take extra care with gloves and mask. After releasing the seeds I sieve them a couple of times to separate out the chaff.
These seeds are already dried. Some will be stored whole, some ground into a powder, and some crushed and made into an infused oil. We like to use the seeds externally in creams or pastes for skin rashes, bruising, acne and other skin conditions. The seeds can be tinctured but we prefer to use the root of Burdock in tincture form. Taking the root internally is a great compliment to using the seeds externally as the root is an exceptional detoxifying medicine and remedy for skin issues. Someday, I’ll have to write a long post on how we use Burdock root in clinical practice.
If you have some Burdock growing in your garden keep an eye on different times of the year you can harvest some leaves, seed pods and roots for remedy making. Processing all parts of Burdock is a one step at a time mission. I’ll get back to my gruelling garbling of these spiky burrs!!