Burdock, Arctium lappa, is native to Asia and Europe and grown worldwide. Part of the thistle family, burdock root has been consumed as a food around the world, though now is most popular in China and Japan where the young roots are shredded and boiled. The flower stalks are cooked too and are reputed to taste like artichokes, to which they are related. In Medieval times, burdock with dandelion was a popular beverage and a much processed version is still available in the UK today. Interestingly, the spiky burrs of the burdock plant are thought to have been the inspiration of the Swiss inventor of Velcro.
The root of the burdock plant is generally regarded as the most important part.
Studies reveal the presence of inulin, mucilage, flavonoids, saponins, lignans and alkaloids within burdock root.