New York

Burdock: Foods You Can Forage for in NYC

Who needs a takeout menu to find a tasty vittle in New York City? SideTour host and expert ecologist “Wildman” Steve Brill helps you track down a quick bite—by foraging in a local city park. Here, dig into burdock, the fourth of Steve’s top 10 foods to forage for in NYC. 



How to find it This major wild food has wedge-shaped leaves reminiscent of elephants’ ears. Unlike similar leaves, they’re white and fuzzy underneath. The central flower stalk stands 2 to 9 feet tall, supporting flowers that resemble purple shaving brushes. The fruits that follow are brown burrs that stick to clothing and anything else. Look for burdock in disturbed habitats, roadsides, fields and vacant lots.

How to eat it Skip the leaves and harvest the beige root before the flower stalk appears (once it does, the root becomes tough and woody). Its hearty flavor is similar to potatoes. Scrub the root with a copper scouring pad but don’t peel it. Slice it razor-thin on a diagonal, then simmer 20 minutes or until tender. You may also harvest the immature flower stalk in late spring before the flower appears, while it’s still very flexible. When properly prepared, it tastes like artichoke hearts. Peel it and parboil it for 1 minute to get rid of the bitterness, then cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until tender.

Load up your plate For more of Steve’s top 10 wild edibles, see our past posts featuring yellow wood sorrel, chicken mushrooms, and lamb’s quarters, and check back regularly as we reveal the rest of his list. To learn even more about foraging, take Steve’s SideTour, or download his definitive smartphone app, Wild Edibles (for iOS and Android). 

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