An Eco-sustainable World
HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Arctium minus

Arctium minus

The lesser burdock (Arctium minus (Hill) Bernh., 1800) is a herbaceous species belonging to the Asteraceae family.

Systematic –
From a systematic point of view, it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Superdivision Spermatophyta, Division Magnoliophyta, Class Magnoliopsida, Subclass Asteridae, Order Asterales, Family Asteraceae, Subfamily Cichorioideae, Tribe Cardueae, Subtribu Carduinae and therefore to the Genus Arctium and the Species A. .
There are several synonyms of this species which are reported below:
– Arcion minus Bubani;
– Arctium chabertii Briq. & Cavill .;
– Arctium chabertii subsp. aellenianum Arènes;
– Arctium chabertii subsp. balearicum Arènes;
– Arctium chabertii subsp. chabertii;
– Arctium chabertii subsp. corsicum Arènes;
– Arctium conglomeratum Schur ex Nyman;
– Arctium euminus Syme;
– Arctium lappa Kalm;
– Arctium lappa var. minus (Bernh.) A.Gray, 1884;
– Arctium melanoceps (Beger) G. H. Loos;
– Arctium montanum Steud .;
– Arctium minus subsp. mediterraneum Arènes;
– Arctium minus var. corymbosum Wiegand;
– Arctium minus var. melanoceps Beger;
– Arctium minus var. minus;
– Arctium minus fo. Minus;
– Arctium nemorosum subsp. pubens (Bab.) Rothm. – Synonym of the subspecies pubens;
– Arctium nemorosum var. pubens (Bab.) Flowers;
– Arctium pubens Bab. – Synonym of the subspecies pubens;
– Arctium pubens var. pubens;
– Arctium tomentosum subsp. pubens (Bab.) Nyman;
– Burdock minor Hill;
– Lappa chabertii;
– Lappa minor Hill;
– Lappa minor var. minor;
– Lappa pubens (Bab.) Boreau – Synonym for the subspecies pubens;
– Lappa vulgaris Hill var. minor (Bernh.) Neilr., 1846.

Etymology –
The term Arctium comes from the Greek ἄρκτιον árction lappola, a plant cited by Dioscorides and other authors.
The specific epithet minus is the Latin comparative of párvus: lesser, smaller than other congenital species.

Geographical Distribution and Habitat –
The Lesser Burdock is a species with a sub-Atlantic – southern European distribution present in all regions of Italy with regional distribution throughout the territory.
It is present in Europe, western Mediterranean Africa, minor Asia, northern Asia and the Americas (in the latter area it is considered a naturalized species).
Its habitat is that of uncultivated areas, hedges, roadsides and banks of streams; but also the ruderal environments, the clearings and the forest roads and meso-thermophilic shrubs. The preferred substrate is both calcareous and siliceous with neutral pH, high nutritional values ​​of the soil which must be moderately moist.
Its altitude distribution is on the reliefs where these plants can be found up to 1500 m a.s.l .; they therefore frequent the following vegetation plans: mountain and hilly and partly the subalpine.

Description –
Lesser Burdock is a herbaceous species that grows between 50 and 150 cm.
It is a biennial development cycle plant (in the first year only the leaves are formed; the flowers develop in the second), while the reproduction occurs through buds placed at ground level.
The epigean part of the stem is erect, pubescent (a dense tomentum), branched and is often red and streaked.
The branches are patent at the base, but hanging at the apex.
The root is a taproot type, up to 30 cm deep.
The leaves are generally whole, with an enlarged leaf and rough with roughly toothed and wavy edges, glabrous and green in the upper part; whitish and spidery or gray-tomentose below. These are carried by a hollow stalk (sometimes only at the base).
The basal leaves are petiolate with ovate or heart-shaped lamina.
The cauline leaves are alternate, sessile and lanceolate.
The size of the leaves are: width 1.5 – 3.5 dm; length 3 – 6 dm. Petiole length: 15 – 50 cm.
The flowers are all of the tubular type, hermaphrodite, actinoform, tetra-cyclic (with four verticils: calyx – corolla – androceo – gynaeceum) and pentamers (i.e. both the calyx and the corolla are composed of five elements). The length of the flower is 7.5 – 15 mm.
The flowers are gathered in inflorescences, consisting of several spherical flower heads gathered in corymbs. The structure of the flower heads is characterized by a peduncle (or pedicel) that supports a casing composed of several lesiniform, green and spidery bracts (or scales) arranged on several series and forming a hedgehog of spines hooked at the reddish apex, which act as protection to the more or less flat receptacle with aristate scales on which the tubular flowers (30 or more) are inserted. The scales are of different sizes (but still smaller than the flowers), the edges are finely serrated and are also persistent. Head diameter: 1 – 2.5 cm. Foot length: 0 – 9.5 cm. the diameter of the casing is 15 – 40 mm.
The flowering period is between July and September.
The fruits are achenes of a few millimeters (5 – 7 mm) of gray-brown color with darker wavy patches. The pappus has short bristles. The length of the bristles is 1 – 3.5 mm.

Cultivation –
Lesser Burdock is a species that grows spontaneously with pollination by insects (day and night butterflies).
The reproduction takes place basically through the pollination of the flowers, according to the aforementioned insect species, and the seeds falling on the ground are subsequently dispersed mainly by ants-like insects (myrmecoria dissemination).
Another type of dispersion also occurs in this type of plant: zoocoria. In fact, the hooks of the bracts of the envelope attach themselves to the hair of passing animals thus dispersing the seeds of the plant even over long distances.
In any case, this plant can be grown in moist soils, but in sunny locations. Sowing is more successful if done in the fall.

Uses and Traditions –
Lesser Burdock is a spontaneous species which, for the less experienced, can be confused with some similar species. These include:
– Arctium lappa L. – Greater Burdock: it is larger and more vigorous than the minor Burdock (the flower heads have a size of 3 – 4 cm); moreover, the leaves are wider and the upper branches have a corimbosa configuration.
– Arctium nemorosum Lej. et Court. – Wild burdock: it differs by the different branching which gives the plant a pyramidal aspect and by the differently colored involucral scales (red and yellowish on the hooks); the flower heads have a size of 3 – 4 cm.
– Arctium tomentosum Miller – Burdock woolen: the most relevant feature is in the envelope: the external scales are hooked, while the internal scales are with straight tips.
The roots of this plant contain a bitter principle (inulin) and were used in folk medicine (burdock root); young leaves and buds are edible.
According to folk medicine, this plant has the following healing properties:
– antibacterial (blocks the generation of bacteria);
– antifungal (blocks the growth of fungal organisms);
– laxative (has purgative properties);
– blood purifier;
– carminative (promotes the escape of intestinal gas);
– cholagogue (facilitates biliary secretion towards the intestine);
– diaphoretic (facilitates skin transpiration);
– diuretic (facilitates the release of urine);
– hypoglycaemic (decreases blood glucose).
As for other uses, a fiber used to produce light brown craft paper is obtained from the inner bark of the stem.

Method of Preparation –
For the use of Arctium minus the drug used is the root collected in the first year before flowering or in late autumn.
Various parts of this plant are used for food purposes such as seeds, roots and leaves. The best roots are obtained from young plants and are normally peeled; if roasted they can be a good coffee substitute. The leaves, always young, are used both cooked and raw. The drums are used after removing the outer rind.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for information purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; therefore, no responsibility is accepted for their use for healing, aesthetic or food purposes.

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