common cocklebur
Xanthium strumarium L.


Xanthium strumarium is an annual that produces a conspicuous prickly 'cocklebur' and ranges from 0.5-6.5 ft. (0.2-2 m) in height. The relatively large, linear to oblong waxy cotyledons helps to distinguish this weed in the early stages of development.
The first true leaves are opposite, all subsequent leaves are alternate. Leaves are triangular to ovate in outline, have stiff hairs, and are approximately 2-6 in. (5.1-15.2 cm) long. Leaves are irregularly lobed with leaf margins that have relatively inconspicuous teeth.
Inconspicuous, greenish in color, arising from the area between the leaf petioles and the stems and at the ends of the erect stems.
An elliptic to egg-shaped two-chambered bur, 0.5-1.5 in. (1.3-3.8 cm) long and covered with hooked prickles. Each bur contains two seeds, one that grows during the first year and one that grows a year later. Two prickles that are longer and wider than the remaining prickles project from the tip of the bur.
Ecological Threat
Xanthium strumarium is found throughout the United States and is primarily a weed of agronomic and horticultural crops, nurseries, and occasionally pastures.


Selected Images


EDDMapS Distribution

EDDMapS Distribution - This map is incomplete and is based only on current site and county level reports made by experts, herbaria, and literature. For more information, visit

State Regulated List

State Regulated List - This map identifies those states that list this species on their regulated list. For more information, visit

State Regulated List
   No Data for this state
   Troublesome or Common weed in one or more crops

Most Troublesome / Most Common Agricultural Weed List
This map identifies those states that consider this species either most troublesome or most common in at least one commodity. For more information, visit the MTMC project page.

Invasive Listing Sources

Taxonomic Rank

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Xanthium
Subject: Xanthium strumarium L.

Synonyms and Other Names

Other Common Names:
cocklebur, cockleburr, rough cocklebur

Related Scientific Names:
Xanthium strumarium var. strumarium L. (Synonym)


Plants - Forbs/Herbs