Xanthium strumarium (common cocklebur)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Xanthium strumarium L. (1753)
Preferred Common Name
- common cocklebur
Other Scientific Names
- Xanthium abyssinicum Wallr.
- Xanthium brasilicum Velloso
- Xanthium californicum E.L. Greene
- Xanthium canadense Mill., 1768
- Xanthium canavillesii Schouw., 1849
- Xanthium chinense Mill.
- Xanthium echinatum Murray, 1784
- Xanthium indicum Klatt, 1880
- Xanthium italicum Moretti
- Xanthium macrocarpum DC
- Xanthium occidentale Bertol.
- Xanthium orientale L. 1763
- Xanthium pensylvanicum Wallr. 1844
- Xanthium pungens Wallr. 1844
- Xanthium ripicola
- Xanthium sibiricum Patrin ex Widder, 1923
- Xanthium strumarium var. canadense (Mill.) Torr. & A. Gray
- Xanthium varians Greene
- Xanthium vulgare Hill
International Common Names
- English: clotbur; cocklebur; ditchbur
- Spanish: Chayotillo
- French: lampourde glouteron
- Portuguese: bardana-menor
Local Common Names
- Australia: noogoora bur; sheep bur
- Germany: Stachel- Spitzklette
- India: adhisishi; bada gokhru bhakra; chota dhatura
- Italy: lappola comune
- Japan: onamomi
- Malaysia: buah anjang
- Netherlands: ongedoornde stekelnoot
- Pakistan: puth kando
- South Africa: kankerroos
- Taiwan: tsai-er
- Thailand: kachab
- Turkey: siraco out
- XANPU (Xanthium pungens)
- XANST (Xanthium strumarium)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
The following summary is from Witt and Luke (2017):
Annual much-branched herb with erect stems (20–150 cm high) without spines; stems stout, green, brownish or reddish-brown, roughly hairy.
Uncertain, but probably Central and South America.
Reason for Introduction
Bee forage and accidentally as a contaminant.
Roadsides, wasteland, disturbed land, fallow land, crops, plantations, drainage ditches, savannahs, water courses, lowlands, floodplains and sandy dry riverbeds.
Rapidly forms large stands, displacing other plant species. X. strumarium is a major weed of row crops such as soybeans, cotton, maize and groundnuts in many parts of the world, including North America, southern Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, India and Japan. It also has a damaging impact on rice production in Southeast Asia. Cocklebur is also an alternative host for a number of crop pests. X. strumarium burrs lodge in animal hair and in sheep’s wool, reducing the quality and increasing treatment costs. The plants are toxic to livestock and can lead to death if eaten.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Asterales
- Family: Asteraceae
- Genus: Xanthium
- Species: Xanthium strumarium
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
DistributionTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Lesotho||Present||Original citation: Wells et al., 1986|
|South Africa||Present, Widespread|
|Bhutan||Present||Original citation: Parker, 1992|
|Jordan||Present||Original citation: Abu-Irmaileh, 1982|
|Albania||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Austria||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Belgium||Present||Introduced||First reported: <1800|
|Bulgaria||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Czechoslovakia||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present, Widespread|
|France||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Germany||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Portugal||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|-Azores||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Romania||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|-Central Russia||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|-Northern Russia||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|-Southern Russia||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|-Balearic Islands||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Switzerland||Present||Original citation: Love, 1976|
|Canada||Present, Widespread||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-Alberta||Present, Localized||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-British Columbia||Present, Localized||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-Manitoba||Present, Localized||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-New Brunswick||Present, Localized||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-Nova Scotia||Present, Localized||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-Ontario||Present||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-Prince Edward Island||Present||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-Quebec||Present||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|-Saskatchewan||Present||Original citation: Weaver & Lechowicz, 1983|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present|
|United States||Present, Widespread|
|-North Carolina||Present, Widespread|
|-South Carolina||Present, Widespread|
|-West Virginia||Present, Widespread|
|-New South Wales||Present||Original citation: Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Northern Territory||Present||Original citation: Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Queensland||Present||Original citation: Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-South Australia||Present||Original citation: Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Victoria||Present||Original citation: Lazarides et al., 1997|
|-Western Australia||Present||Original citation: Lazarides et al., 1997|
|Papua New Guinea||Present|
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
X. strumarium is a short-day plant which generally will not flower under photoperiods longer than 14 hours, although populations vary in critical night length with latitude of origin (Ray and Alexander, 1966; McMillan, 1975). X. strumarium has the C3 pathway of photosynthesis. It is self-compatible and primarily wind-pollinated.
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Zygogramma bicolorata||Predator||Plants|Growing point; Plants|Inflorescence; Plants|Leaves|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
ImpactTop of page
In soyabeans, cocklebur has been reported to cause the highest reductions in yield of all annual weeds in both northern and southern production areas of the USA (Stoller et al., 1987). Soyabean yield losses are estimated at 10 to 16% for 0.5 plants of X. strumarium per m of row, 65% for 4 plants and 80% for over 10 plants per m of row, for weeds emerging at the same time as the crop (Stoller et al., 1987; Rushing and Oliver, 1998). Similar yield losses from cocklebur were reported in Ontario, Canada (Weaver, 1991). In Italy, Sartorato et al. (1996) recommended an economic threshold of only 0.05 plants of X. strumarium per square m in soyabeans. In addition to direct yield losses through competition, infestations of X. strumarium decrease soyabean seed quality and harvesting efficiency. One cocklebur per m of row was shown to cause a 7.2% increase in foreign material in harvested soyabeans, a 5.2% increase in seed moisture content, decreased test weight by 58.6 g/L seed, and reduced combine speed (Ellis et al., 1998). The authors recommended use of a pre-harvest desiccant when cocklebur densities exceeded 0.5 plants per m of row.
In cotton in the USA, seed yield losses of 60 to 90 kg/ha (approximately 5%) have been reported from cocklebur growing at a density of one plant per 15 m of row in Mississippi (Snipes et al., 1982). Cotton yield losses from one plant of X. strumarium per 3 m of row varied from 6 to 27% in North Carolina (Byrd and Coble, 1991). The critical period for cocklebur in cotton lasted from 2 to 10 weeks after cotton emergence (Snipes et al., 1987).
In groundnuts, cocklebur has been reported to cause yield losses of 31-39% at a density of 0.5 plants and 88% at 4 plants per m of row in the southern USA (Royal et al., 1997a, b). Cocklebur densities higher than 1 plant per 2 m of row reduced deposition of the fungicide chlorothalonil by 34% (Royal et al., 1997b).
The economic impact of X. strumarium in maize is somewhat lower than for soyabeans, cotton and groundnuts. Yields of maize in Illinois, USA have been reported to decrease by 10% at 1 cocklebur per m of row, to a maximum yield loss of 27% at a density of 4.7 cockleburs per m of row (Becket et al., 1988).
Infestations of X. strumarium can also cause significant yield losses in horticultural row crops (Weaver and Lechowicz, 1983). In snap beans, yield losses of 5 to 50% were reported for densities of X. strumarium ranging from 0.5 to 8 per square m (Neary and Majek, 1990).
X. strumarium also has a detrimental impact on livestock production which has been best documented in Australia, where it is abundant in sheep-grazing regions in the eastern half of the continent in Queensland and New South Wales (Wapshere, 1974; Hocking and Liddle, 1986). The burs lodge in animal hair and sheep wool, and are difficult to remove when the wool is processed after shearing. Contaminated wool requires special treatment and may have a price penalty of 25% or more (Wapshere, 1974). The prickly burs can cause considerable discomfort to animals by clinging to hair on the legs and matting the tails and manes of horses.
X. strumarium also has an economic impact in pastures, where cattle, sheep and pigs may be poisoned by eating young plants. The cotyledons contain a toxic compound, carboxyatractyloside, which is absent in older plants (Weaver and Lechowicz, 1982; Hocking and Liddle, 1986; Martin et al., 1992). Symptoms include vomiting, muscular spasms, liver degeneration and occasionally death.
Cocklebur serves as a host for a number of pathogens of crops. Sunflowers have been reported to be damaged by the rust Puccinia xanthii, commonly found on cocklebur, and by alternaria leaf spot (Alternaria helianthi), also found on cocklebur in North America (Hocking and Liddle, 1986). Cocklebur is reported to be a host for Sclerotinia minor and S. sclerotiorum which contaminate soyabean and discolour seed and result in a lowered price (Hocking and Liddle, 1986). X. strumarium is also an alternate host for the insect Spilosoma obliqua (Lepidoptera) which attacks Egyptian clover in India (Dhaliwal, 1993), and for Colletotrichum capsici, which causes anthracnose on tomato fruit and cotton seedlings in the USA (Mclean and Roy, 1991).
The Xanthium genus is closely related to the Ambrosia (ragweed) genus, and X. strumarium produces large amounts of highly antigenic pollen (Reddi et al., 1980). The glandular hairs on the leaves and stem secrete a substance which causes contact dermititis in allergic individuals (King, 1966).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Competition (unspecified)
UsesTop of page
Uses ListTop of page
- Poisonous to mammals
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Both species are sometimes confused with burdocks (Arctium spp.). The latter are biennials which produce a rosette of large leaves during their first year, and spherical burs densely covered with hooked spines during their second year.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Seedlings of X. strumarium can be controlled by cultivation, but older plants often produce shoots from axillary buds if the root has not been severed. Adoption of zero or reduced tillage systems can potentially reduce Xanthium populations, because burs seldom germinate on the soil surface (Vencill and Banks, 1994).
X. strumarium is controlled by many soil-applied and foliar herbicides. In France, Mamarot and Rodriguez (1997) give recommendations for a range of treatments including sulcitrone in maize, amitrole directed in maize, bentazon and fomesafen in soyabeans.
In Brazil, Lorenzi (1984) tabulates susceptiblity to bentazon, dicamba, 2,4-D and glyphosate, but states that the weed is resistant to metolachlor, asulam, butachlor, butylate,cyanazine, linuron, oxadiazon, pendimethalin, trifluralin and vernolate. In Papua New Guinea, Henty and Pritchard (1975) indicate susceptibility to 2,4-D, MCPB, amitrole, ametryne and diuron recommended for broad-leaved weeds, including atrazine, dicamba, metribuzin, bentazon, acifluorfen, and imazethapyr.
Populations resistant to imidazolinones and to the arsenical herbicides MSMA/DSMA have been reported in the USA (Heap, 1997).
Biological control of X. strumarium has been attempted with Alternaria helianthi (Abbas and Barrentine, 1995), and the rust Puccinia xanthii (Julien et al., 1979). Seed predation by the moth, Phaneta imbridana, and the trypetid fly, Euaresta aequalis, in the USA, may provide some control (Hare and Futuyma, 1978; Hare, 1980).
A. helianthi caused necrotic lesions on leaves of A. retroflexus, and resulted in 100% or 67% mortality of plants grown under growth chamber or outdoor conditions, respectively, when applied as a solution of conidia to seedlings (Abbas and Barrentine, 1995). The authors suggested that a phytotoxin could be isolated from A. helianthi and sprayed as a mycoherbicide.
The rust P. xanthii occurs in North America and India and was accidentally introduced into Australia (Hocking and Liddle, 1986). It causes deformation of the leaves, splitting of the petioles and stems, and finally leaf drop, but it has not provided significant large-scale control of X. strumarium.
Seed damage ranged from 0 to 28% for Phaneta imbridana, and from 0 to 42% for Euaresta aequalis, on natural populations of X. strumarium in New York. E. aequalis was introduced into Australia from North America in the 1930's. It became established only in the vicinity of Brisbane, and has not contributed significantly to the control of X. strumarium (Hocking and Liddle, 1986).
As summarized by Julien (1992), additional attempts at biological control have included: the lepidopteran Epiblema strenuana which was introduced from Mexico to Australia in 1984 and became widely established, reducing weed vigour and competiveness; Mecas saturnina (Coleoptera), introduced from N. America to Australia in 1963, but thought to have died out; and Nupserha vexator, introduced from India to Fuji and Australia, without notable success.
ReferencesTop of page
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Celepcİ, E., Uygur, S., Kaydan, M. B., Uygur, F. N., 2017. Mealybug (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) species on weeds in Citrus (Rutaceae) plantations in Çukurova Plain, Turkey. Türkiye Entomoloji Bülteni, 7(1), 15-21. http://dergipark.gov.tr/download/article-file/315531
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Khan R U, Wazir S M, Muhammad Subhan, Saad Ullah, Hidayat Ullah, Aysha Farooq, Farheen Jaffar, Shazia, Shah I A, Mustafa Kamal, 2012. Weed flora of sugarcane in district Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Weed Science Research. 18 (4), 541-552. http://www.wssp.org.pk/article.htm
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