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PlantFiles: Buffalo Bur
Solanum rostratum

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Solanum (so-LAN-num) (Info)
Species: rostratum (ro-STRAY-tum) (Info)

2 members have or want this plant for trade.


12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

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There are a total of 19 photos.
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2 positives
2 neutrals
9 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Chillybean On Sep 7, 2014, Chillybean from Near Central, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I first noticed this plant some years ago; learned it was toxic and the first one I pulled gave me a terrible rash. I wore gloves after that.

Because I rarely wear gloves walking around my little wannabe prairie, this year, I've just been pulling them up by hand. Yet no longer do I get that rash. Interesting.

You may wonder why I give this plant a positive when I yank it up any time I come across one. It is native to the US, so belongs here. Today, I found some treasures in my wannabe prairie, but also found one of these Buffalo Burs in full bloom. That, I had never seen before. It has a lovely yellow flower. I took a picture before the yank.

What I found interesting is that this is part of the potato family and the original host for the Colorado Potato Beetle. Maybe this is why we've had wonderful potato harvests the last couple of years... the beetles are finding the Buffalo Burs in the unexplored areas of our pasture?? I am totally speculating.

I am debating if I should let it go, or continue pulling.

Edited to add:
If they are not in lawn areas where bare feet roam, I have decided to leave the plants alone.

Negative TeeTop On Aug 25, 2013, TeeTop from White City, OR wrote:

This plant can be a pain when it comes to bike tires.
Living in White City, Oregon, where it is a troubling weed the county likes to weed whack.
A beautiful plant that is very problematic in our area, coupled with the Goats Heads a head ache for bike riders.

Neutral loggah On Jul 19, 2012, loggah from Campton, NH (Zone 4b) wrote:

I was very surprised to find this plant On the edge of the lawn outside one of my flower beds. No idea where it came from. It's not listed in the Eastern Edition of Peterson's Wildflowers of Northeastern/North-central North America, but I did find it in the Southwestern and Texas edition. Sure didn't expect this plant to show up in New Hampshire!

Negative StephanieRoque On Jun 14, 2012, StephanieRoque from West Carrollton City, OH wrote:

everything I have read about this "weed" is negative. I have one in my garden and was curious about it so I posted it on facebook and one of my friends identified it. I live in Ohio, so I am surprised to see it is mostly found in the southwestern United States! I planted watermelons in my garden this year, (a first,) and the leaves look IDENTICAL to that of the watermelon, except for the yellow flowers and the thorns, I would have left it there thinking it WAS a watermelon! needless to say, I pulled it. (carefully) but I am trying to figure how this thing got in my watermelon seed pack I bought from LOWES. My only conclusion is the package says it is a "product of Mexico," so seeing as where it is Native, I assume this was an accident..

Negative texasflora_com On Dec 1, 2009, texasflora_com from De Leon, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I rarely give a negative to any plant but I just can't find any redeeming qualities for this evil plant. We always called them bull nettles/stinging nettles around here, but those are actually different plants and are very edible and nutritious. The buffalobur/cocklebur has barbs on its thorns like a fish hook. I think this monster is the reason behind the dinosaur extinction.

Negative chrisrglenn On Aug 4, 2009, chrisrglenn from Lynnwood, WA wrote:

Note: Audubon Society says this plant is "Highly Toxic" (see below)

My wife and I first noticed this plant in our Lynnwood, Washington yard about 3 or 4 days ago. I took a picture of it, because it was so unusual looking. I sent the picture to a friend. In discussing it, I decided to look it up in my "The Audubon Society "Field Guide to North America, Wildflowers, Western Region." Color plate #210, informational text, page 790.
Further research lead me to this web page. The only reason I am commenting is that the Aubudon Society warned highly toxic and some of the people who commented on this web page seemed to have an interest in cultivating this invasive/toxic plant. (And I intend to cremate this plant, but not in a BBQ that I cook in! This thing just showed up-have no idea how it got here, have never seen another one before!)

Negative Arden2 On Sep 15, 2008, Arden2 from Olympia, WA wrote:

This plant came up in my Western Wa, garden. Saw the bright yellow flowers among the petunias and reached in to identify. Very prickly. Pulled and pressed. The flowers helped with the ID as a solanum. Its a Class A weed here, but has not become established according to the Weed Board.

Negative Joesgirl On Sep 2, 2008, Joesgirl from Stockton, CA wrote:

This plant volunteered in my flowerbed. After doing some research and realizing I had a monster on my hands, I carefully pulled it up and had my husband insinerate it in the BBQ grill before it could seed.

Positive marwood0 On Oct 29, 2007, marwood0 from Golden, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

Attractive flowers and foliage, fantastic thorns, can control easily in very dry areas. Attracts butterflies and potato bugs. Very bad for pasture / grazing land, but nice addition to a garden or to use as a deterent to foot traffic. Pull in the fall before it seeds. Wear gloves.

Negative trois On Sep 3, 2005, trois from Santa Fe, TX (Zone 9b) wrote:

While a pretty flowering plant, it is the most invasive plant I have seen. Large farms can become worthless in just a couple of years with out constant ploughing. My experience was in Southwestern Oklahoma.

Neutral BobAndrews On Aug 15, 2004, BobAndrews from Haines, AK (Zone 4a) wrote:

I found a single solanum rostratum growing in Haines, Alaska in my manure pile in mid-July (2004) I have let it grow, as I have never seen such a plant before. Will probably pull it out before it seeds.

Negative Mimi_A On Jun 15, 2004, Mimi_A from Chico, CA wrote:

I have never seen a plant with thorns on the top of the leaves (big thorns, at that)! Two of these came up in my flower garden in Chico, California, this spring and I let them grow until the seed pods (resembling gooseberries) formed. None of our nurseries recognized the plant, but the State Agriculture Department office was able to identify it for me. No one can explain how it got into my garden. I suspect contaminated steer manure. Ugh! A vicious monster!

Negative talinum On Aug 11, 2002, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

Buffalo Bur is highly invasive in the midwest. The stems are armed with yellow spines, it is very prickly. It reseeds and can take over an area quickly. I am constantly removing this weed.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fort Smith, Arkansas
Banning, California
Stockton, California
Aurora, Colorado (2 reports)
Golden, Colorado
Lamar, Colorado
Springfield, Colorado
Yale, Iowa
Oakland, Maryland
Sedalia, Missouri
Campton, New Hampshire
Elephant Butte, New Mexico
Roswell, New Mexico
Dayton, Ohio
Dover, Pennsylvania
De Leon, Texas
Kerrville, Texas
North Richland Hills, Texas
Richmond, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Eden, Vermont
Walkerton, Virginia
Alderwood Manor, Washington

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