Looduskalender in Vikerraadio: A bur war

Submitted by Looduskalender on Thu, 13.09.2018 - 10:10

The author, Kristel Vilbaste, also posts texts in Vikerraadio

Photo: Arne Ader

Translation into English by Maret

Estonian text posted 23.08.2018


Woolly burdock


The stalks of burdocks have grown chest-high and the plants themselves are full on burs, some of them still carrying a ring of purple bloom.

But most of them are totally ready to catch onto a passerby’s sleeve or hair. And to travel away.

Despite being such a catching nuisance, the burs are still liked by everyone. In the middle ages it was customary to present burdocks to your beloved, when you wanted to let her/him know, that you were ready to get fully attached to your sweetheart.

And you can form little bears and balls of burs. Then you can fight a war and the boys will surely enjoy throwing burs into the long hair of the girls. Sometimes you even have to cut off a tuft of hair in order to get rid of them, so you better be quick on your feet. Most likely such a bur war will eventually create some lasting friendships between “enemies”. Bur-like.

The medicinal plant people talk about burdocks as a special remedy for baldness, prepared from the oil pressed out of burdock seeds, but I prefer to dig out their roots late in the fall and use them in soups instead of carrots. In Japan, in the old days they were called “gobo”

and used in stews.

And did you know? In the old days it was quite important to make jam of the burdock roots. You add four teaspoons of vinegar to half a litre of water, bring it to boil and add the sliced burdock roots. After two hours of cooking your rather peculiar jam will be ready.

So, when weeding your garden in the spring, don’t immediately get rid of the burdocks. They are true “people-companions”, they love your house, growing by its walls, and they love you, creeping into your sleeves and sticking to your socks.

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