Sacajawea Audubon

Chapter Begins Burdock Removal Project

Yellow Warbler caught in Burdock - photo by Robin Wolcott

It was brought to the chapter's attention that an invasive plant known as Burdock was creating a potential hazard to nesting songbirds.  Birds become entangled in the burrs, and unable to free themselves, die a slow death.  Burdock is native to Europe and Northern Asia and is now widespread throughout the United States, where it grows as a weed.  Burdock (some call it cockleburs) are well-known for their ability to stick to bare fingers and clothes.Burdock has an interesting life cycle.  It is a biennial.  The first year it grows big leaves and roots, but is relatively harmless because it does not flower and set seeds.  The second year it sends up a tall flower stalk (up to 8 feet high) and by late August or September they set seed.  Then, like spawning salmon, they die.  And that plant never comes back but it has created thousands of seeds.  So if we keep cutting off the plants before they go to seed we can eventually get rid of a stand without needing to kill the individual plants.

So we have started a burdock removal project on Sourdough Nature Trail.  On August 9th, five hardy souls came prepared for battle, armed with pruners and trash bags.  Burdock was plentiful, and the group worked until it got too hot.  Robin and Richard Wolcott found an unfortunate Yellow Warbler entangled in a cluster of burdock burrs.  This really spurred the group on to cut down every burdock plant we could find, no matter how difficult they were to reach.  Chapter President Loreene Reid emerged from the brush at one point covered head to toe in burrs!

This will be an ongoing project, so watch for updates on scheduled work parties on the website and chapter Facebook page.  If you come to help, bring pruners, leather work gloves and wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat.

Loreene Reid with a glove full of burdock.


Janne Hayward, Loreene Reid, Richard & Robin Wolcott bag some burdock.

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  1. What a well-stated and informative article! Glad to see the attention it gives to non-native invasive species. The hapless Yellow Warbler says it all: fight noxious, invasive species.

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