Xanthium strumarium
Xanthium strumarium L..jpg
Xanthium strumarium
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Xanthium
X. strumarium
Binomial name
Xanthium strumarium

see text

    • Xanthium abyssinicum Wallr.
    • Xanthium acerosum Greene
    • Xanthium acutilobum Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium acutum Greene
    • Xanthium affine Greene
    • Xanthium albinum (Widder) Scholz & Sukopp
    • Xanthium albinum subsp. ripicola (Holub) Dostál
    • Xanthium americanum Walter
    • Xanthium antiquorum Wallr.
    • Xanthium arcuatum Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium arenarium Lasch
    • Xanthium aridum H.St.John
    • Xanthium australe Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium barcinonense Sennen
    • Xanthium brasilicum Vell.
    • Xanthium brevirostre Hochst. ex A.Rich.
    • Xanthium brevirostre Wallr.
    • Xanthium bubalocarpon Bush
    • Xanthium californicum Greene
    • Xanthium californicum var. oligacanthum Widder
    • Xanthium calvum Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium campestre Greene
    • Xanthium canadense Mill.
    • Xanthium canadense var. echinatum (Murray) A.Gray
    • Xanthium cavanillesii Schouw
    • Xanthium cavanillesii var. cordobense Widder ex Parodi
    • Xanthium cenchroides Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium chinense Mill.
    • Xanthium chinense var. globuliforme C.Shull
    • Xanthium chsei Fernald
    • Xanthium cloessplateaum D.Z.Ma
    • Xanthium commune Britton
    • Xanthium commune var. wootonii Cockerell
    • Xanthium cordifolium Stokes
    • Xanthium crassifolium Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium cuneatum Moench
    • Xanthium curvescens Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium cylindricum Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium decalvatum Widder
    • Xanthium discolor Wallr.
    • Xanthium echinatum Murray
    • Xanthium echinatum var. cavanillesii (Schouw) O.Bolòs & Vigo
    • Xanthium echinatum var. italicum (Moretti) O.Bolòs & Vigo
    • Xanthium echinatum subsp. italicum (Moretti) O.Bolòs & Vigo
    • Xanthium echinellum Greene ex Rydb.
    • Xanthium fuscescens Jord. & Fourr.
    • Xanthium glabratum Britton
    • Xanthium glanduliferum Greene
    • Xanthium globosum C.Shull
    • Xanthium homothalamum Spreng.
    • Xanthium inaequilaterum DC.
    • Xanthium indicum J.Koenig ex Roxb.
    • Xanthium indicum var. inaequilaterum (DC.) Miq.
    • Xanthium inflexum Mack. & Bush
    • Xanthium italicum Moretti
    • Xanthium italicum subsp. riparium Celak.
    • Xanthium japonicum Widder
    • Xanthium leptocarpum Millsp. & Sherff
    • Xanthium longirostre Wallr.
    • Xanthium macounii Britton
    • Xanthium macrocarpum DC.
    • Xanthium macrocarpum var. glabratum DC.
    • Xanthium macrocarpum var. italicum (Moretti) Nyman
    • Xanthium mongolicum Kitag.
    • Xanthium monoicum Gilib.
    • Xanthium natalense Widder
    • Xanthium nigri Ces., Pass. & Gibelli
    • Xanthium occidentale Bertol.
    • Xanthium oligacanthum Piper
    • Xanthium orientale L.
    • Xanthium orientale subsp. californicum (Greene) Greuter
    • Xanthium orientale subsp. italicum (Moretti) Greuter
    • Xanthium orientale subsp. riparium (Celak.) Greuter
    • Xanthium orientale subsp. saccharatum (Wallr.) B.Bock
    • Xanthium orientale var. albinum (Widder) Adema & M.T.Jansen
    • Xanthium orientale var. macrocarpum Reiche
    • Xanthium orientale var. riparium (Itzigs. & Hertzsch) Adema & M.T.Jansen
    • Xanthium oviforme Wallr.
    • Xanthium palustre Greene
    • Xanthium pensylvanicum Wallr.
    • Xanthium pungens Wallr.
    • Xanthium pungens var. denudatum Widder
    • Xanthium riparium Itzigs. & Hertzsch
    • Xanthium riparium Lasch
    • Xanthium ripicola Holub
    • Xanthium roxburghii Wallr.
    • Xanthium saccharatum Wallr.
    • Xanthium saccharatum subsp. aciculare Widder
    • Xanthium saccharatum subsp. commune Widder
    • Xanthium saccharatum subsp. eusaccharatum Widder
    • Xanthium saccharatum var. silphiifolium Widder
    • Xanthium saccharatum var. speciosum Widder
    • Xanthium saccharatum var. wootonii Widder
    • Xanthium sibiricum Patrin ex Widder
    • Xanthium sibiricum var. jingyuanense H.G.Hou & Y.T.Lu
    • Xanthium sibiricum var. subinerme Widder
    • Xanthium silphiifolium Greene
    • Xanthium speciosum Kearney
    • Xanthium sphaerocephalum Salzm. ex Ball
    • Xanthium strumarium var. brasilicum (Vell.) Baker
    • Xanthium strumarium var. canadense (Mill.) Torr. & A.Gray
    • Xanthium strumarium var. echinatum (Murray) A.Gray
    • Xanthium strumarium var. glabratum (DC.) Cronquist
    • Xanthium strumarium subsp. italicum (Moretti) D.Löve
    • Xanthium strumarium f. purpurascens Priszter
    • Xanthium strumarium subsp. sibiricum (Patrin ex Widder) Greuter
    • Xanthium strumarium var. wootonii (Cockerell) W.C.Martin & C.R.Hutchins
    • Xanthium varians Greene
    • Xanthium wootonii Cockerell

Xanthium strumarium (rough cocklebur,[2]clotbur, common cocklebur, large cocklebur, woolgarie bur) is a species of annual plants of the family Asteraceae.[3] It probably originates in North America and has been extensively naturalized elsewhere.[4][5]


The following subspecies are accepted:[1]

  • Xanthium strumarium subsp. brasilicum (Vell.) O.Bolòs & Vigo
  • Xanthium strumarium subsp. strumarium

Reproductive biology

The species is monoecious, with the flowers borne in separate unisexual heads: staminate (male) heads situated above the pistillate (female) heads in the inflorescence.[6] The pistillate heads consist of two pistillate flowers surrounded by a spiny involucre. Upon fruiting, these two flowers ripen into two brown to black achenes and they are completely enveloped by the involucre, which becomes a bur. The bur, being buoyant, easily disperses in the water for plants growing along waterways. However, the bur, with its hooked projections, is obviously adapted to dispersal via mammals by becoming entangled in their hair. Once dispersed and deposited on the ground, typically one of the seeds germinates and the plants grows out of the bur.

Toxic or medicinal phytochemistry

The plant may have some medicinal properties[7] and has been used in traditional medicine in South Asia and traditional Chinese medicine. In Telugu, this plant is called Marula Matangi.

However, while small quantities of parts of the mature plants may be consumed, the seeds and seedlings should not be eaten in large quantities because they contain significant concentrations of the extremely toxic chemical carboxyatractyloside. The mature plant also contains at least four other toxins.[8]

  • Animals have also been known to die after eating the plants.
  • A patient consuming a traditional Chinese medicine containing cocklebur called Cang Er Zi Wan (苍耳子丸) developed muscle spasms.[9]
  • It was responsible for at least 19 deaths and 76 illnesses in Sylhet District, Bangladesh, 2007. People ate large amounts of the plants, locally called ghagra shak, because they were starving during a monsoon flood and no other plants were available. The symptoms included vomiting and altered mental states, followed by unconsciousness.[10]

Use by Native Americans

The Zuni people use the canadense variety for multiple purposes. The chewed seeds are rubbed onto the body before the cactus ceremony to protect it from spines. A compound poultice of seeds is applied to wounds or used to remove splinters.[11] The seeds are also ground, mixed with cornmeal, made into cakes, and steamed for food.[12][13]


See also


  1. ^ a b "Xanthium strumarium L." Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  2. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  3. ^ Everitt, J.H.; Lonard, R.L.; Little, C.R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 978-0-89672-614-7.
  4. ^ "Xanthium strumarium". Atlas of Florida Plants. Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida.
  5. ^ "Xanthium strumarium L." Calflora. Taxon Report 8367.
  6. ^ Weaver, S.E.; Lechowicz, M.J. (1982). The biology of Canadian weeds. 56. 'Xanthium strumarium' L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science.
  7. ^ Kamboj Anjoo; Saluja Ajay Kumar (2010). "Phytopharmacological review of Xanthium strumarium L. (Cocklebur)". International Journal of Green Pharmacy. 4 (3): 129–139. doi:10.4103/0973-8258.69154.
  8. ^ Islam MR, Uddin MZ, Rahman MS, Tutul E, Rahman MZ, Hassan MA, Faiz MA, Hossain M, Hussain M, Rashid MA (Dec 2009). "Ethnobotanical, phytochemical and toxicological studies of Xanthium strumarium L". Bangladesh Medical Research Council Bulletin. 35 (3): 84–90. doi:10.3329/bmrcb.v35i3.3658. PMID 20922910.
  9. ^ West PL, Mckeown NJ, Hendrickson RG (May 2010). "Muscle spasm associated with therapeutic use of Cang Er Zi Wan". Clinical Toxicology. 48 (4): 380–4. doi:10.3109/15563651003610161. PMID 20521353. S2CID 25015169.
  10. ^ Gurley ES, Rahman M, Hossain MJ, Nahar N, Faiz MA, Islam N, Sultana R, Khatun S, Uddin MZ, Haider MS, Islam MS, Ahmed BN, Rahman MW, Mondal UK, Luby SP (2010). "Fatal outbreak from consuming Xanthium strumarium seedlings during time of food scarcity in northeastern Bangladesh". PLOS ONE. 5 (3): e9756. Bibcode:2010PLoSO...5.9756G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009756. PMC 2841199. PMID 20305785.
  11. ^ Stevenson, Matilda Coxe (1915). "Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians". SI-BAE Annual Report. 30: 62–63.
  12. ^ Stevenson (1915), p. 71.
  13. ^ Castetter, Edward F. (1935). "Ethnobiological Studies in the American Southwest I. Uncultivated Native Plants Used as Sources of Food". University of New Mexico Bulletin. 4 (1): 1–44, 54.