Sonntag, 1. Januar 2012

Plant of the Day (January 1st, 2012) - Arctium lappa L.

Happy New Year to everybody.

This is the 100th Post of my Blog and I want to say thank you  to everybody, who have visited my blog since it has gone online in April 2011. I hope, I could help you with your search about plant facts. From my experience, I know that it could be very tricky to find informations about plants in the Web. For the future, I want to write some new “big” Articles", which aren't about plants but about field trips or scientific topics.

However, on this New Years Day, I want to show you a new plant. It's Arctium lappa L. from the Asteraceae family. In the German language, we know this plant as “Große Klette” while in English, this species is known as “greater burdock” or sometimes simple as “lappa”

A. lappa - habitus

It's a big plant, which can reach heights between 80 and 150 centimetres (31.5 to 59 inches). The stalk is branched with many upright branches. The basal leaves are egg-shaped or broadly triangular. Their dorsal site is dark green, while the ventral site is grey and covered with many  bristles. The petiole is pithy.

 A. lappa - inflorescences

The inflorescence are round heads. Each head has 1,5 to 3 centimetres ( 0.5 to 1.5 inches) in diameter. Each inflorescence consists of  small radial flowers with purple petals in the centre, which are surrounded by a hull (involucrum) of green bracts. Each of  these bracts have a hook-shaped tip, which is used as a barbed. After successful pollination and ripening, the whole inflorescence will hang in the fur of animals, which will spread the seed by this way..

A. lappa - basal leaves

A. lappa is native to Middle Europe (except Spain and Scandinavia) but can also be found as neophyte in North America. It grows on bright places and likes a fresh nutrient-rich soil of clay. So, you can find it e. g. at roadsides, on scree slopes or railway tracks and other types of ruderal wastelands but also on the shores of rivers, lakes or ponds.

A. lappa - inflorescences with ripe fruits

It's also a medicinal plant. The roots contain essential oils and traces of sulphur. Their extract is used to cure some skin diseases and dandruffs. In Japan, the roots of A. lappa are also eaten. The fruits also contains oil (similar to the oil of the sunflower). This “burdock oil” is used for the production of cosmetics.

The next Article will be posted at Friday. I hope, it will be a new “big one”, but I cannot make a promise yet.

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