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Autumn Weeds: Milkweed, Thistle, Teasel, Burdock, Queen Anne’s Lace


Autumn Weed Study Outdoor Hour ChallengeThis week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge allows you to pick from a list of the autumn weed studies already in the archives here on the Handbook of Nature Study. Pick one of the weeds and then mark your planner to revisit this weed in all four seasons to experience its full life cycle. Make sure to read the lesson in the Handbook of Nature Study as noted below for specific weed observation suggestions.

Autumn Weeds – Handbook of Nature Study

Autumn Milkweed – Lesson 148

Autumn Thistle – Lesson 141

Autumn Teasel – Lesson 147

Autumn Burdock – Lesson 142

Autumn Queen Anne’s Lace – Lesson 128

Make sure to click the links above to read the entire Outdoor Hour Challenge with helpful links, nature study ideas, printable notebooking pages, and suggested follow-up activities.


Additional Links

Queen Anne’s Lace Autumn Study: Here is a link to one of our autumn weed studies.

Autumn Nature Journal Examples: Take a look at some of my autumn nature journal pages, including an autumn thistle page.



queen annes lace autumn



Autumn Nature Study Ebooks graphic 

If you’re a member of the Ultimate Naturalist Library, you have access to the following ebooks with notebooking pages for each of the autumn weed studies listed below.

Autumn Milkweed – More Nature Study Autumn

Autumn Thistle – More Nature Study Autumn

Autumn Teasel – Autumn Nature Study Continues

Autumn Burdock – Autumn Nature Study Continues

Autumn Queen Anne’s Lace – Autumn 2010

OHC Plan 18 to 19 Join Us

This Outdoor Hour Challenge is part of the 2018-2019 Plan here on the Handbook of Nature Study. We’ll be using the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock to discover new things about the world around us. Join us each Friday for a different nature study topic. Make sure to subscribe to this blog to receive the weekly challenge right in your email box.

Benefits by Level Updated size 500

If you want to become a member here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you can click the Join Us button for more details. Benefits include those shown above including access to ebooks, notebooking pages, archived newsletters, and new ebooks and printables published during your membership.


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Spring Season Reminders

Seasonal Topics – Spring Reminders

It is time to plan some spring nature study and I hope you add some of the spring seasonal ideas to your nature study planners.

Here are some ideas from year-long nature study topics we have done in the past:

NOTE: You may wish to start a new year-long study this spring using some of the ideas above. Spring is a wonderful beginning so take advantage of the opportunity and season.


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Year Long Nature Study Reminders – Winter

Seasonal Topics Reminders – Winter

Here are some ideas from year-long nature study topics we have done in the past:

Make sure to add your year-long study to your January or February nature study plans so you don’t forget!!!


Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook

If you are a member of the Ultimate or Journey levels here on the Handbook of Nature Study, you will find this ebook listed in your library after you log into your account. The ebook version available to members includes all of the notebook pages, coloring pages, and color images. I highly recommend purchasing a membership for all the added benefits for each and every challenge.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

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Burdock Nature Study

Burdock Plant 8

Here is our burdock nature study happy to have had a chance to see it in person!

Hiking in Utah we saw an area with these plants that had HUGE leaves. I was intrigued and took a photo so I could later look it up in my field guide. I had no idea that what I was looking at was first year burdock!

Burdock Plant 1

Later on in the hike, we spotted these blooming plants and I was pretty sure what we were seeing was burdock. I had read all about this plant when I was writing the current ebook and was sort of on the lookout for it in our travels this summer. I apologize for the blurry photos but it had started to rain and we were moving quickly off the mountain.

Burdock Plant 3

Here is a closer look at the leaves.

Burdock Plant 6

And here is the underside of the leaf. It is much whiter than the top of the leaf.

Burdock Plant 4

Here are a couple more images we took to document our discovery.

Burdock Plant 7

In reflection, the plants and flowers are much larger than I anticipated.

The flowers look like prickly balls with purplish color. The flower is ringed with spiny hooks all around.

We noted that the first year leaves are large and wavy looking while the second year plant with the flowers are much smaller and less wavy.

This was a case of preparation in identifying a wildflower/weed…reading up on things and then looking for them when you are out for your Outdoor Hour Challenge time creates such a sense of satisfaction. Since the Handbook of Nature Study was written for a specific region, many of the topics are not found naturally in California. This never stumbles me since I view the time reading and researching topics for future use a very valuable tool in learning more as I go through life.

Did you find some burdock this week?

Cocklebur weed walking trail (3)

But, guess what? We found something right alongside our walking trail that looks remarkably like burdock. We snapped some photos and made some observations.

Cocklebur weed walking trail (7)

Doing some additional research online, we found out that this plant that looks like burdock is a the cocklebur plant!


Both the cocklebur and the burdock plants are in the asteraceae family…which is probably why they have some of the same characteristics.

What a great find and discovery!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Burdock Wildflower Study


Budock Nature Study @handbookofnaturestudy

NOTE: Once again this week, if you don’t find any burdock in your neighborhood, please pick another weed or wildflower to study.

Inside Preparation Work

  • Read pages 527-529 (Lesson 142) in the Handbook of Nature Study. Read through the lesson activity suggestions for ideas to use in your family. Discuss how the burdock is a “selfish” plant.
  • Watch this video to mainly see what the leaves and roots look like: Wild Edibles. It is up to you whether you want to try eating it or not, I mainly like this video because it gives a clear look at what burdock looks like so you can search in your local area.
  • This site has clear images for identification: Natural Biodiversity.
  • Advanced Study Idea: Watch this video showing how the idea for Velcro came from the burrs of a burdock plant:

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • This time of year you should be able to identify both first and second year burdock plants. The first year plants will have a basal arrangement of leaves and the second year will have the flower stalk, flowers, and perhaps stickers.
  • Collect some burrs from the burdock plant to look at under your magnifying lens at home.
  • Advanced Study: If you have permission, dig up a burdock plant and carefully sketch and label the plant’s parts in your nature journal.
  • If you don’t have any burdock to study, make sure to look for another plant with sticker burrs to observe.

Follow-Up Activity

  • Record in your nature journal your burdock observations. You can use the notebook page provided with the ebook. Younger children can use the coloring page in the ebook.
  • If you were able to collect some burrs from the burdock plant, look at them with a magnifying lens or microscope. Why do you think this part of the burdock plant led to the development of Velcro.
  • Advanced Study: Do research about invasive species of plants in your area and then complete the notebook page included in the ebook.

Additional Links

Here is a video:

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library

Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study. If you want to purchase the Autumn Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Autumn Nature Study Continues content list on the announcement page.

OHC Autumn Nature Study Continues Cover Button


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