You can eat the flower stalk raw or prepare it by first peeling and parboiling it for one minute to get rid of the bitterness, then cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes for tenderness as desired. Burdock flower stalks taste much like Artichoke hearts, and can be used in any Artichoke heart recipe as a substitute.The Burdock roots can be eaten raw or prepared by boiling, baking, or first thoroughly scrubbing the root with a coarse copper scouring pad, then slicing it thin and simmering or sautéing for 20 minutes until tender. It has a hearty flavor reminiscent of potatoes, although it is related to artichokes.
The fruits that follow the flowers are brown globular burrs that stick to clothing and virtually anything else. The Burdock typically lives for two years, making it a biennial, then, after dispersing its seeds, the plant dies.
Folk herbalists consider dried burdock to be a diuretic, diaphoretic, and a blood purifying agent. The seeds of A. lappa are used in traditional Chinese medicine, under the name niupangzi. Burdock is a traditional medicinal herb that is used for many ailments. Burdock root oil extract, also called Bur oil, is popular in Europe as a scalp treatment applied to improve hair strength, shine and body, help reverse scalp conditions such as dandruff, and combat hair loss.A liquid made from the roots will help to produce sweating and increase urination. Dry the root, simmer it in water, strain the liquid, and then drink the strained liquid. Use the fiber from the dried stalk to weave cordage.
Incidentally, the invention of Velcro is attributed to Burdock’s influence. In the early 1940′s, a Swiss inventor became curious about the seeds that had attached themselves to his clothes and his dog’s fur. When he examined them under a microscope, he found the familiar hook-and-loop system that the seeds use to hitchhike on passing animals, and realized that the same approach could be used to join other things together as well.