He's a big guy, ain't he? Anyway, I've been spending hours here and there digging roots. It is not like picking up a head of lettuce at the store. Foraging is work, good hard work, enough to lessen my guilt for not taking up Shy Wolf's exercise routine. :) And after you get your roots home, then it is another hours of time cleaning the roots and chopping them up. That, of course, is when my back spasms and goldenrod oil is called for.
I find the burdock all over the place. There's some in the garden, some at a neighbor's house when I went over to bring him some garlic syrup and elderberry extract (first cold/flu of the season), and some by a roadside. They are handsome, virile plants--I tend to think of them in masculine terms, apparently.
The first year roots are both edible and medicinal. Burdock is a capital blood-purifier, containing lots of minerals and trace minerals. It is a good and gentle detoxifier, and will strengthen the body. Check out its nutritional value here, and be sure and scroll down the page.
Prodigal Gardens has a nice section on burdock, complete with recipes. I want to eat some of what I gathered and save the rest for an extract. I've already eaten a couple of the root slices and found them tasty, if a bit woody.
I've already discussed yellow dock and dandelion, so I won't get into them here. Besides eating the greens, the dandelion roots can also be eaten (yellow dock roots are too bitter), but I think I'll be using these as teas and extracts. It is easy to tell the yellow dock root from the dandelion--the yellow dock roots are intensely yellow, and dandelion roots are whitish and sweeter. I picked them both at the same time, but had no trouble telling which roots were which.
There's a veritable host of little sassafrass saplings to the side of our garden, so I tried digging up a bunch of them. Digging tree roots is a lot harder than the other plants mentioned here. Yowsa. I guess I'd better start getting in better shape to dig these fellas. I did get three good size roots, though, and shaved off the bark to use for sassafrass tea. The shaved roots went into a pot with about a quart and a half of water, boiled for 10 minutes. The tea became a bright, handsome red and smelled terrific. I know that the FDA has banned safrole, the essential ingredient in sassafrass root and bark, reporting that it can cause liver damage and perhaps cause cancer. Well, maybe so, but a few cups of delicious sassafrass tea probably won't hurt.
Besides, I tend not to believe the FDA, since I don't think it is a good idea to trust an agency that has lied to me before on many things. The FDA likes pharmaceuticals (as in, they know where the money is), and I like plants and herbs. Both pharmaceuticals and plants can kill you and make you sick, but except for the rare poisonous plants, plants and herbs are far better for you than the chemical stews of Big Pharma. Just my 2 cents worth.
I also took the sassafrass leaves to dry. Dried and powered, they can be used to thicken stews and gumbos, and probably used for tea as well.