For those of you who have signed up for our Adopt-A-Trail program, hopefully you got this one! For those that didn’t, keep the program in mind for next year, and keep on reading for the answer.
Common Burdock (Arctium minus) was introduced to North America from Eurasia and was brought over for its medicinal characteristics, to make paper and to make coffee. It also inspired the invention of Velcro!
Common Burdock can be identified by its erect, coarse stem that is highly branched and can grow up to 3 m tall in its second year of growth. The leaves form a rosette in the first year, with large and wavy heart-shaped basal leaves that sometimes get confused for rhubarb. The upper leaves are alternate with wavy edges and a woolly underside. Common Burdock flowers emerge in the plant’s second year of growth. The flowers are purple or green atop circular burs with hooked, prickly bristles. Eventually, these flowers mature into brown Velcro-like burs that get stuck to clothing, socks, and pet fur.
Common Burdock is highly invasive due to its ability to out-compete grasses in pastures. Burdock also stops native plants from getting the sunlight they need due to the size of its leaves. There have even been cases where bats and birds have gotten entangled in the burs, which has resulted in their deaths.
Burdock can be found throughout the Sea to Sky region, growing in the moist, fertile, nitrogen-rich soils of disturbed areas such as roads, ditches and riparian areas. Keep our Adopt-A-Trail program in mind for next year, and if you spot Common Burdock in the Sea to Sky Region, remember to report it at [email protected], ssisc.ca/report or at (604) 698-8334.