Greater Burdock

Arctium lappa

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  3. Greater Burdock


Found in scrub, woodlands and along roadside verges, Greater Burdock is known to many of us as the brown, sticky seedheads that attach themselves to our clothing as we walk through the countryside or attend the allotment. Children delight in its sticky nature, frequently throwing the burs at each other or even attaching them to unsuspecting pets. For this reason, it has many other common names such as 'Sticklebacks', 'Sticky Jack' and 'Sticky Bobs'. The hooked seedheads actually aid the plant's seed dispersal by attaching themselves to the fur of passing animals.

How to identify

A tall plant, Greater Burdock has large, downy, heart-shaped leaves with wavy margins. It produces egg-shaped, thistle-like flower heads that appear in loose clusters from July to September and eventually give rise to the familiar sticky burs with their large hooks.

Where to find it

Grows mainly in central and southern areas of England.


When to find it

  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

Like many of our native plants, Greater Burdock is an excellent source of nectar and pollen for all kinds of insects including bees, wasps and butterflies. To encourage wildlife into your garden, try planting native flower species in your borders to provide a 'nectar-cafe'. To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Greater Burdock
Latin name
Arctium lappa
Height: up to 1m
Conservation status