Legacy of the Land: Understanding the Symbolism of Burdock Flowers

Burdocks, with their sticky, hooked seed burs, are famously known for inspiring the invention of Velcro. In addition to this fun trivia, burdock flowers have a rich meaning and symbolic history and place in cultural traditions worldwide.

Burdock Flower Meaning, Symbolism, Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Significance

Burdock Flower Meaning and Symbolism


The genus name Arctium comes from the Latin word meaning narrow. This is possibly a reference to the stems and branches of burdock plants that are narrow, especially when compared to their broad foliage.

The common name burdock comes from two separate roots: bur (a hooked seed) and dock (a type of leafy sorrel plant). This common name refers to the burdock plant’s spurred seeds and its leafy, sorrel-like foliage.

Burdock Meaning in Floriography (The Victorian Language of Flowers)

In the Victorian language of flowers, burdock flowers have several meanings. These historic symbolic meanings of burdock flowers in floriography include:

  • Importunity
  • Rudeness
  • Touch me not.
  • You weary me.
  • I do conjure, command me to fly hence, if though hast yet one spark of common sense.

Modern Burdock Flower Symbolism

Burdock flowers are also associated with abundance because they often blossom in crowded clusters of thistle-like flowers.

Common Burdock Flower Colors and Their Symbolic Meaning

Common Burdock Flower Colors and Their Symbolic Meaning

When it comes to flower symbolism, the blossom’s color carries its own symbolic meaning in addition to that of the flower. Burdock flowers bloom in shades that range from pink to purple, and these colors have their own meanings in flower symbolism.

  • Pink – Feminity, happiness, gentleness, admiration, and gentle affection
  • Purple – Dignity, pride, success, wealth, nobility, and royalty

Burdock for Good Luck and Protection

Burdocks are sometimes associated with good luck and protection because they were thought to ward off curses and negative energy brought about by the evil eye in Turkish Anatolia. In fact, burdocks were a common motif, woven into fabrics so that people could wear them as protection in their clothing.

Burdock in Feng Shui

In Feng Shui, burdock root is associated with health and healing thanks to its many uses in Chinese herbal medicine. As a result, it’s associated with the health and healing center of the Bagua map. With its roots that venture deep into the earth, it is also associated with the earth element in Feng Shui.

Burdock Root and the Zodiac

According to astrology practices, certain flowers, vegetables, herbs, and plants are beneficial to particular zodiac signs. Burdock is said to be one of the herbs that are most beneficial to individuals of the fire sign, Aries (March 21-April 19).

Burdock Folklore

The Burdock flower appears in a variety of folklore. For example, in Cornwall, it is said that the fae would ride colts around at night and entertain themselves by tangling their mains with burdock burrs.

It is also a common children’s game to toss burdock burrs at friends, and if one sticks, then that person would be your sweetheart.

On the second Friday of August, the people of South Queensferry celebrate the Burryman with Burry Man’s Day and a parade. The Burry Man’s costume is completely covered with dried burdock burrs. His march through town is thought to ward off evil spirits and is also accompanied by a collection for charity.

Suitable Occasions to Gift Burdock Flowers

Burdock flowers are not directly associated with any specific occasions. However, you can look to their symbolic meanings and other associations to determine when they make a thoughtful gift. For example, burdocks are a fun gift to give an Aries on their birthday – especially an Aries who is interested in astrology and the zodiac signs. They also make suitable gifts for wishing a friend good luck with a new endeavor.

Uses and Benefits of Burdock Flowers

Uses and Benefits of Burdock Flowers

Burdock plants have many uses. The taproots of certain species (especially Arctium lappa) are harvested and eaten as root vegetables. This dish is quite popular in Asia.

Burdock flowers also provide an essential food source of pollen and nectar for bees during the late summer season because they bloom in between clover and goldenrod plants. Additionally, they are a food source for a variety of Lepidoptera species.

The plant’s seeds and oils are also used in herbal medicine to treat various ailments. In herbal medicine, burdock has been used to remove toxins from the blood as well as to treat stomach problems, joint swelling, and even as an anti-aging treatment. There are not, however, good scientific studies available to support any of these uses.

About Burdock Flowers

A Member of the Asteraceae (aster, daisy, sunflower, and composite) plant family, Arctium is a genus containing 44 accepted species of biennial flowering plants. They produce large (up to 28 inches long) leaves and thistle-like flowers in shades of pink and purple that bloom in the late summer. The flowers give way to seeds that are surrounded by hooked burrs.

Plants of the genus are native to most of Europe and Asia, in addition to parts of northwestern Africa and Greenland. They grow in USDA hardiness zones two through seven.

Burdock Flower Meaning FAQs:

Are Burdock Flowers Poisonous?

Burdock flowers are not technically poisonous. The green parts of the plants above the ground, however, contain lactones that can cause skin irritation in individuals who are allergic or sensitive.

Are Burdock Flowers Annual or Perennial?

Burdock flowers are neither annual nor perennial. They are actually biennial, which means they live a two-year lifecycle.

How Many Different Types of Burdock Flowers Are There?

The Arctium plant genus contains 44 accepted species of flowering plants called burdocks.

Where Does Burdock Typically Grow?

Burdock thrives and grows best along riverbanks, roadsides, ditches, and disturbed ground in fields.

Do Burdock Flowers Attract Certain Types of Wildlife?

Burdock plants attract certain species of moth larvae and bees. The plants, however, taste bitter so deer and other wildlife will only feed on burdock when other food sources are scarce.

Are Burdock Flowers Suitable for Cut Flower Arrangements?

Clusters of thistle-like burdock flowers are quite attractive when added to rustic or whimsical arrangements of cut flowers.

What Symbolic Meanings Are Associated With Burdock Flowers?

The symbolic meanings of burdock flowers include abundance, importunity, rudeness, and good luck.

What Are Some Companion Plants That Grow Well With Burdock Flowers?

Burdock plants form deep taproots that absorb lots of nutrients from the surrounding soil. It is best grown with companion plants such as asparagus, beans, peas, and squash – rather than near other deep-root vegetables.

Enjoying Burdocks in Your Garden and Bouquets

Burdocks have a rich meaning and symbolic history and place in culture throughout Europe and Asia. They can also be fun to grow in your garden or include in your floral designs. However you choose to enjoy burdocks, they’re sure to stick to you!

For more, see our in-depth guide to Arbutus flower meaning and symbolism.

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