Scientific Name: Xanthium strumarium

Common Name: common cocklebur

Other Common Names: rough cocklebur, heartleaf cocklebur

Synonyms: Xanthium canadense, Xanthium chinense, Xanthium glabratum, Xanthium indicum, Xanthium orientale, Xanthium pennsylvanicum, Xanthium sibiricum

Habit: Erect, stout stems and spreading branches that are angled and often red-spotted.

Leaves: The leaves are alternate and can be up to 8 inches long and 6 inches across. They are cordate or ovate-cordate with bases that are well rounded or indented and tips that are broad and blunt. Leaves are covered with short stiff hairs that give the plant a rough feel.

Identifying Characteristics: It bears heart shaped leaves and oblong, hairy burs with strong, beaked prickles.

Flower Seed Head: The male flowers are in inconspicuous heads clustered at the tips of branches; the female flowered heads are axillary, greenish in color with the 2 flowers in the head enclosed by the involucres.

Seed Fruit: Seeds are borne in a prickly burr that resembles Velcro and sticks to clothing and animal hair. The seeds are often covered with dark membranes. The young seedlings are poisonous and can be fatal to cattle and pigs.

Where Found: Habitats include cropland (especially corn fields), fallow fields, the floodplain zone of rivers and ponds, degraded meadows that are poorly drained, dried-up mudholes, stabilized areas of beaches and sand dunes, vacant lots, and waste areas. Disturbed, poorly drained areas are preferred.

  • Life cycle: summer annual

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Asteraceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate

  • Leaf shape: lance; oval; spatulate

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: serrated; entire

  • Stem hairs: has hairs

  • Flower color: white; green

  • Growth habit: upright and nonwoody

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: has hairs

  • Flower symmetry: radial symetery; bilateral symetry

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Root structure: fibrous; taproot

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf