Hi all. As i've said before I'm brand new to gardening so I hope this i
an obvious question and easily answered. I have inherited a fairly dam
garden and a plant that I was told was wild rhubarb, though looking o
the net I would say not, is sprouting up everywhere.
Its description follows: very rapidly growing, starts with red fairl
think single shoot, growing to 1 inch wide single stem with thin broa
leafed branches forming wide leafy canopy. Stems are hollow in natur
and are green with red flecks. Live plants are easily snapped making i
impossible to pull the roots up via the stalk. Dead plant forms brittl
fragile hollow tubes to about 2m tall.
My questions as I say are what is it? has it any use - edible? How do
make it die - bearing in mind its everywhere making it nearly impossibl
to dig up.
Have no idea what it is. Burdock is often called wild rhubarb. IF its like
cultivated Rhubarb, the plant will die after sending up a seed head. The
trick is to let the seedhead mature just enough to make the plant think it
has succeeded at reproducing and than cut the seed head off before it has
openned and than burn it. The plant dies the next year.
Burdock on the whole is immune to pesticides.
Burdock is a biennial, so I think it will die after the second year
regardless of whether it succeeds in reproducing. I once lived in a house
that had both rhubarb and burdock growing in the back yard. Unfortunatly the
burdock always seemed to grow much better. :-)
Rhubarb is a perennial and will come up year after year. I've never seen one
put up a seed head on a big shoot like burdock does in its second year.
Burdock will look sort of like a rhubarb plant its first year, when it is
storing up energy but not trying to reproduce. It is in its second year that
it will send up a tall central shoot (maybe 4' high or more) that will
flower and produce those prickly burrs that catch on your clothing. So there
is little danger of mistaking a second-year burdock plant in full bloom for
rhubarb, but in the first year, and before that shoot goes up in the second,
it does look quite a bit like rhubarb.
The ways I found to tell them apart are that rhubarb stems will be quite red
and not very hairy, whereas burdock stems will be mainly green with only a
hint of red and quite hairy. Also rhubarb leaves are broader and have about
five main veins radiating from a single point at the base of the leaf, with
side veins radiating from those, whereas burdock leaves are more narrow and
elongated and have only a single main vein down the center, with side veins
coming off of it. Finally, if it spreads all over the place by itself, it's
probably burdock and not rhubarb. My family had a rhubarb plant throughout
my childhood and it never strayed so much as an inch from its spot or
produced any offspring elsewhere. Neither did the rhubarb in the yard I
lived in that also had the burdock -- but on the other hand that darn
burdock would spread like crazy, like the invasive weed it is.
Burdock is not edible. A friend told me a family story of the time her uncle
once mistook it for rhubarb when her aunt sent him out to gather some, and
her aunt innocently made a pie out of it, and when they tasted it for
dessert that night they were immediately struck by how extremely bitter and
disgusting that pie was, thus leading auntie to chastise uncle for not being
able to tell the difference between rhubarb and burdock out in the field and
waste all that time making a pie out of burdock. (Of course, one might argue
that she should not do so much chastising of others on the topic if she
herself happily made a pie out of green stems with only flecks of red in
Utopia in Decay
In theory the leaves and roots are supposed to be edible and packed
with vitamins. Burdocks were originally brought to North America as
food plants according to one of my references (Edible & medicinal
plants of the rockies by Linda Kershaw, Lone Pine Publishing).
Apparently the root is quite sought after in Japan. They're also
supposed to be good for whatever ails you.
A reference: http://www.herballegacy.com/Light_Medicinal.html
In practice I'm a little sceptical about how they taste. It's sort of
like how people describe certain meats as 'tasting like chicken'. All
weird roots are all supposed to taste like parsnip, and greens like
spinach. They don't. Most of them taste like crap. But they're
supposed to be good for you and quite nutritious - handy to know in
case you're ever starving.
Okay, let me narrow my claim. Unlike rhubarb, burdock *stems* don't seem to
be all that sought after for eating. :-)
Utopia in Decay
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