Numerous species of Xanthium have been described in the literature, but most treatments now only accept two or three distinct species and most of the others have been placed in synonymy of Xanthium strumarium.
Xanthium albinum (Widder) Scholz & Sukopp
Xanthium americanum Walter
Xanthium brasilicum Vell.
Xanthium californicum Greene
Xanthium canadense Mill.
Xanthium cavanillesii Schouw
Xanthium chinense Mill.
Xanthium chsei Fernald
Xanthium curvescens Millsp. & Sherff
Xanthium cylindricum Millsp. & Sherff
Xanthium echinatum Murray
Xanthium echinellum Greene ex Rydb.
Xanthium globosum C.Shull
Xanthium inaequilaterum DC.
Xanthium indicum J.Koenig ex Roxb.
Xanthium inflexum Mack. & Bush
Xanthium italicum Moretti
Xanthium japonicum Widder
Xanthium macrocarpum glabratum DC.
Xanthium macrocarpum italicum (Moretti) Nyman
Xanthium natalense Widder
Xanthium orientale L.
Xanthium oviforme Wallr.
Xanthium pensylvanicum Wallr.
Xanthium pungens Wallr.
Xanthium riparium Lasch
Xanthium ripicola Holub
Xanthium sibiricum Patrin ex Widder
Xanthium speciosum Kearney
Xanthium wootonii Cockerell
Common Name: Cocklebur
Xanthium strumarium is a coarse, erect, branching annual plant that grows around 40 - 70cm tall, occasionally up to 150cm.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
]. Most members of this genus are toxic to grazing animals and are usually avoided by them[
]. The seed also contains toxins[
Possibly originating in South or central America, the plant has spread to become a cosmopolitan weed of temperate and subtropical areas.
River banks, lake shores, cultivated ground and pastures[
]. Waste land, along roadsides and in dry
]. Damp or seasonally wet, often alkaline, soils, waste places, margins of agriculture; at elevations up to 2,000 metres[
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Hardy to about -15°c[
Requires a sunny position, succeeding in most soils. Prefers a poor dry soil[
]. The plant tolerates a wide variety of soil types and textures and a soil pH range of 5.2 - 8.0, as well as frequent flooding and saline conditions[
Plants often self sow and in some parts of the world have become noxious weeds[
The fruit is a hard brown, ovoid bur, 15 - 25mm long, covered with hooked spines 2 to 4 mm long, and with two terminal beaks. It sticks readily to clothing and fur, and thus is easily spread[
Leaves and young plants - cooked[
]. They must be thoroughly boiled and then washed[
]. Caution is advised, the plant is probably poisonous[
Seed - raw or cooked[
]. It can be used as a piñole[
]. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with flour for making bread, cakes etc[
]. The seed contains about 36.7% protein, 38.6% fat, 5.2% ash[
]. It also contains a glycoside[
] and is probably poisonous.
The leaves and root are anodyne, antirheumatic, appetizer, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, laxative and sedative[
]. The plant is considered to be useful in treating long-standing cases of malaria[
] and is used as an adulterant for Datura stramonium[
]. An infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, diseased kidneys and tuberculosis[
The plant has been used as a liniment on the armpits to reduce perspiration[
The fruits contain a number of medically active compounds including glycosides and phytosterols[
]. They are anodyne, antibacterial, antifungal, antiinflammatory, antimalarial, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, antitussive, cytotxic, hypoglycaemic and stomachic[
]. They are used internally in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, catarrh, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, diarrhoea, lumbago, leprosy and pruritis[
The fruits are harvested when ripe and dried for later use[
A decoction of the seeds has been used in the treatment of bladder complaints[
A poultice of the powdered seed has been applied as a salve on open sores[
]. The seeds are also used externally to treat pruritis[
The root is a bitter tonic and febrifuge[
]. It has historically been used in the treatment of scrofulous tumours[
]. A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of high fevers and to help a woman expel the afterbirth[
The dried leaves are a source of tannin[
A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves[
The seed powder has been used as a blue body paint[
The dried plant repels weevils from stored wheat grain[
An oil obtained from the seed is used as an illuminant[
The seed contains an essential oil[
Seed - sow spring or autumn in situ[
]. The seed requires plenty of moisture in order to germinate.