- Xanthium strumarium L.
- Composite family
Parts Usually Used
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Cocklebur is a variable weedy annual plant that grows to 5 feet in
height. The leaves are oval to heart-shaped, somewhat lobed or toothed,
on long stalks. The green flowers are inconspicuous. The fruits are
oval, with crowded hooked prickles, often called burrs. Blooms September
Found in waste places.
Antispasmodic, analgesic, alterative, antibacterial, antifungal,
diuretic, febrifuge, sedative
Xanthostrumarin, resin, fatty oil, alkaloids, organic acid, vitamin
C, ceryl alcohol
Legends, Myths and Stories
This weed is very obnoxious to contact; the seed pods tend to adhere
to animal fur and human clothing. Often transplanted throughout an
area by clinging to the fur of animals and dropping at distances to
become wider spread and more obnoxious. It is a very valuable therapeutic
medicinal used by the Chinese for rheumatic pains and aches as well
as sinus blockage. Also used as a yellow dye.
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria L.) is
sometimes called cocklebur, but this herb belongs to the rose family
and is no relation to the true cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium L.)
Cocklebur was once used for rabies, fevers,
allergic rhinitis with headaches,
chronic lumbago, leprosy, and pruritis (severe itching) of the skin.
Native Americans used the leaf tea for kidney
(TB), colds, as a blood
tonic, and diarrhea. The
Chinese had similar uses.
Most cocklebur species are toxic to livestock and are usually avoided
by them. Seeds contain toxins, but the seed oil has served as lamp