At first, I thought this plant might be the infamous Giant Hogweed Plant, and I was very wary of getting even close to it. Being an ‘apprentice botanist’, I just wasn’t sure about this plant. When I pointed it out to my wife, she thought it might have been a rhubarb, so I took this photo and emailed it to the expert Ellen Folts, Senior CNLP at Amanda’s Garden in Dansville. These folks specialise in NYS indigenous plants and are well worth a visit if you are looking to plant a natural NY garden.
She kindly replied within a few hours and, thankfully, it wasn’t the Hogweed plant. I was concerned that the school kids might touch it and incur some awful blisters and rashes that could remain with them for a lifetime.
Just so you know what Giant Hogweed looks like, here’s a link to a NY DEC indentification page. The page even has a ‘look-alike’ section which was consoling, as I’m sure many folks would have difficulty, like me, in diagnosing and consequently recognising this lethal plant.
OK! So, now we’ve determined our budding plant ISN’T Giant Hogweed. What is it?
It’s Burdock (Arctium), a type of Velcro producing plant (well the pods are)! The same stuff that holds clothes on, or replaces laces in Sneakers!
The teazels or hooking burrs of Burdock are the type of burr that inspired the Velcro Creator George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer. The idea came to him after he took a close look at the burrs which kept sticking to his clothes and his dog’s fur when walking in the Alps.
Unlike Hogweed, Burdock is quite edible and has many medicinal properties. Here are seven reasons why Burdock can be good for you.
Teazels have been used since the 14th century to ‘raise the nap‘ in woolen cloth. The British Coldstream Guards red tunic’s are, I believe, still treated with these pods to give a felt like appearance to the material.
For all the good in Burdock, it’s still an invasive alien species and needs to be monitored. This particular plant is next to the stream flowing under the trail near the gate. (Unless some hungry soul has already dug it up!)