Introduction

Burdock is a tall growing biennial herb native to Asia and Europe and is a widespread weed in New Zealand. Burdock is used as a traditional herbal medicine, as a fresh vegetable, a chilled cut vegetable, and as a stock food. The root is eaten as a food in parts of Asia, including China, Japan and Korea.

Burdock is rich in dietary fibre and a good source of carbohydrates for diabetes. The most important ingredient in burdock is polysaccharide insulin. It constitutes up to 50% of the dry root weight. The stalks have a similar flavour to asparagus when boiled. Although the young stems and leaves are edible, the most important part is the slender root. Burdock is reported to be a diuretic and a "blood purifier".

Growing Burdock

Propagation: 20–30 plants/m2
Yields/ha: 10t/ha fresh weight (2–2.5t/ha dry weight)
Time of Maturity: Autumn (120–180 days from sowing until maturity depending on variety).
Soil type: A very deep free draining soil is required to enable the long slender taproot to develop to its maximum length. Soils such as sands, silt loams or peat loams are suitable for this crop.
Fertilisers: Fertilisers should be applied just before sowing. A soil test will give an indication of the nutrient requirements. High fertility is required.
Weed control: A weed free seed bed is needed. There are no registered chemicals for burdock in New Zealand at present.
Pest/Diseases: Further research needs to be done in this area to identify pests of burdock.
Harvesting: Harvesting burdock is difficult, since the roots grow to 80cm depth. Trenching alongside the row and pulling the root sideways is one technique, and on very free soils, hand pulling may be possible. A specially designed harvester capable of lifting 80cm long roots is required for large scale production.
Marketing: There is a potential local market to restaurants that cater for Japanese tourists. The market potential in Japan is the niche market for specialist, processed products.

Further Information

Wikipedia article

Article in Botanical.com

Kansas State University publication