The Return of the Burry Dog

Dog and burrs

The Burry Dog

Yes, readers, It’s that time of year again: It’s Burdock Time.


Giant clump of burrs waits for unsuspecting passerby.

I’ve written at some length about burdock and its progeny, the burr, as well as about wonderfully bizarre ancient celebrations like the burry man.  So I’m familiar with this tenacious non-native weed whose extraordinary clinginess inspired the invention of velcro.  And yet, despite my heightened burdock awareness, on a recent walk on the upper pathway inside Riverside Park, the dog and the burdock became again … as one.

Dog with burrs in his fur

Eyebrow burrs from a 2010 encounter.

The day shone, the air was fresh, and for a moment, all had seemed right with our little world.  And then the dog started limping. Checking his paws, I found burrs, burrs and more burrs. In a moment of inattention, lulled by the beauty of the day, we had once again been ambushed by burdock, which lies in wait for moving targets like my poor dog in order to spread its seed and take over an unsuspecting world.

Burdock plant in fall

It only looks dead.

Since I first wrote about burrs in 2010, readers have shared their burry encounters. Carlie wrote me about the annual Burdock Festival of Benson, Vermont.  And Tricia of Amusing the Zillion, the peerless blog of all things Coney Island, told me burdock is a Japanese delicacy known as gobo, and is readily available at local Japanese restaurants. (Note to  Tricia: we still need to meet up for that burdock dish in the East Village.)  I also learned that burdock root, which is said to have anti-bacterial and healing properties, was one of the original ingredients in root beer, which is the nicest thing I’ve heard about burdock yet.

Antique Hires Root Beer Advertisement

Hires Root Beer, the health & temperance drink. Image: James D. Julia Auctioneers

Now I see that NYC’s own forager, Wildman Steve Brill, offers lots of burdock information as well as a video on cooking the evil vegetable.

And there seems to be a whole movement to Eat the Weeds, which sounds to me like a very good idea, indeed.

Just do us all a favor, and start with burdock. The dog and I will thank you.

The dog and I: same hair style.

Read more:
The Burry Man, the Burry Dog and Burdock
Plant People: Green Man, Burry Man, Moss Man and Poison Ivy 

Explore posts in the same categories: 2012, dogs, Domestic animals, Fall, Flora, In the City, NYC Parks, Riverside Park, Seasons

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13 Comments on “The Return of the Burry Dog”

  1. […] ‘Tis the season where those damn burrs stick to your dog. (Out Walking the Dog) […]

  2. Andre Says:

    Yes – many things we don’t realize have been used to make beverages since the beginning of time. Everything from Dandelion roots to seaweed (Irish Moss). in fact – many of the pharmaceuticals ppl use come from things developed along those lines.

  3. Of course! Burdock would make a terrific topic for an episode. Would you mind if use it Melissa? Out Walking the dog gets credit for the idea!

  4. Dandelion and Burdock as a drink seems to go back as far as 1265 in England……
    …and is still commercially available now….

    I remember drinking it as a kid and returning the bottles to get the 5p recyclilng refund….

    Hope you get all the burrs out soon :)

  5. mthew Says:

    This is why I got a haircut recently.

  6. Barbara Says:

    Oh the plight of long haired dogs – burrs seem to abound – a rough coat collie who once owned me, had a dreadful time with burrs – and I thought I had eradicated them from my wee property in the country (which he never left as he was blind.) But I noticed their return the other day – and my two shorter haired mutts – labradors both – still manage to get burrs attached, fortunately not imbedded in their coats. Hard to believe that the parks crews haven’t cleaned up every bit of vegetation as they like to do in some Toronto city parks…I like your encouragement of eating the wild beginning wth burdock – but I’m not going to start… pull ’em up and burn ’em is my motto! – good luck with the burry man and the burry dog! and thanks for the chuckle this morning Melissa! I do sympathize.

    • I’d be fine with the pull & burn program, Barbara. Seems like everyone with animals or a field has a burr story. Another reader wrote on Out Walking the Dog’s Facebook page that she spent a lot of time as a child uprooting burdock from her family’s soybean fields and untangling burrs from the tails and manes of the horses.

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