Featured Outlaw: Common Burdock

Common burdock is a mean one, folks! It loves to shove other plants out of its way and take over. At this very moment, the seed-laden cockleburs of this plant are lying in wait to catch a tangled ride on your dog’s fur. This wily weed is a stubborn, invasive biennial that spreads rapidly. It has been spotted roaming around Mendota Heights more and more in recent years. Once it has found a home to settle into (disturbed soils, fence lines, sunny open areas, roadsides, your yard), it is hard to eradicate. The size and shape of the leaves of this sneaky weed look suspiciously like rhubarb. But don’t be fooled (and don’t make a pie out of its stalks, you’ll regret it). Unlike the delectable rhubarb, the underside of burdock’s leaves are silver-white and covered with fine hairs.

If you spot this noxious, non-native plant loitering around your yard, keep it mowed, and never let it get to its second-year flowering stage. If you don’t mow this outlaw, it will be the visitor you have a hard time getting get rid of: a single mature plant can produce up to 16,000 seeds that can survive in soil for up to five years. You’ll need to hitch your horse to the second-year burdock plants in your yard to yank them out by their tap roots, so best to keep them mowed or pulled (be sure to wear gloves).

Learn more about how to kick this nasty dude out of town.

First spring sprouts. Photo credit: Kathy Chayka, Minnesota Wildflowers


Common burdock plant in its second season, getting ready to produce thousands of seeds. Photo credit: Kathy Chayka, Minnesota Wildflowers