Fox’s Clote


Frosted Burdock bur

This morning whilst waiting for the sun to come round and thaw some of my icy stone I spent a few moments admiring my Burdock plants with frosted burs.

An old English name for the Burdock was Herrif, Aireve, or Airup, from the Anglo-Saxon hoeg (a hedge), and reafe (a robber) – or from the Anglo-Saxon verb reafian (to seize).

Burdock or fox's clote

Culpepper gives as popular names in his time: Personata, Happy Major and Clot-Bur.  Other common names it is known by are  Lappa, Loppy-major, great Burdock, Fox’s Clote, Thorny Burr,  Beggar’s Buttons, Cockle Buttons and Love Leaves.  During the Middle Ages, English herbalists preferred burdock root to sarsaparilla for the treatment of boils, scurvy, and rheumatism.

Burdock in the frost

I was particularly taken with the name Fox’s Clote and wondered how it came about – perhaps because the bur looks like fox fur?  Please do let me know if you know the story behind it.







  1. Comment by Morag de Jong:

    I came across the foxes clote name for burdock recently and immediately thought it meant Foxe’s balls. As in Dutch the word kloten is also from the same origen in the Middle English/German language meaning lump.

    • Reply by jennifer:

      Isn’t it fascinating learning the origins of words and where phrases come from. I can understand the term for Burdock (I have a patch of that growing too, which is full of lumps at the moment!)

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