Origin: Eurasia; commonly grown in Japan
Definition: The burdock root is hard and crunchy, with a sweet, earthy taste. Sold with the dirt still on it; should be eaten right after washing.
Synonyms: Gobo, in Japan
Uses: Stir-fry, or pickle it and toss with a salad, or slice thinly and add to miso-based soups.
Grow it: Sow the seed in spring or summer; small roots will be ready for harvest in about three months. The plant will go dormant through winter but bounce back for one more season the following summer. The leaves can cause irritation, so protect your skin. Seeds from Kitazawa Seed Company (kitazawaseed.com).