Greater Burdock - Arctium lappa


A tall plant to 1.5 metres with large (to 50 cm) heart shaped basal leaves with solid stalks. Flowers globose purple 20 to 25 mm (35 to 42 mm in fruit). The flower heads are borne on long stalks up to 10cm and the spiny outside bracts are shiny golden green (never tinged purple).

Similar Species

Lesser and Wood Burdock

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

In flower, the head is more or less corymbose (i.e the lower flowers have longer stalks, so that the inflorescence is virtually flat-topped).  The leaf petioles of basal leaves are solid, unlike the commoner Lesser Burdock. It can have glabrous or hairy flowers

Recording advice

A photograph of the flower head; if not in flower, evidence that the basal leaf petioles have been checked


Rough grassy places, hedgerows, roadsides, and waste ground.

When to see it

July to September.

Life History


UK Status

Fairly frequent in England south of the Humber.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was found in 65 of the 617 tetrads.

In the current checklist (Jeeves 2011) it is listed as Alien (archaeophyte); scarce but probably under-recorded.

It is on the Rare Plant Register

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map