Common Cocklebur

Xanthium strumarium

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Xanthium (ZAN-thee-um) (Info)
Species: strumarium (stroo-MAR-ee-um) (Info)



Foliage Color:



Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Pale Green

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall


Unknown - Tell us

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


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

Golden, Colorado

Springfield, Colorado

Benton, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Glouster, Ohio

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 16, 2008, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

This was the favorite food of the Carolina Parakeet. They would consume great quantities of the seeds. There beeks were specially designed to tear through the spiny seed pods. As the native parrot declined and eventually became extinct, the number of cockleburs swifttly climbed. Now the Eastern US has no parrots but plenty of these pesky plants.


On Apr 16, 2008, marwood0 from Golden, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

A nice looking plant when green, looking like a short squat sunflower bush without the nice flowers. Very hardy and can grow in a wide range of conditions. Supposedly, each seed pod has two seeds, one of which will sprout the first year and one the second year. Be careful not to let this plant get away from you; I would pull it and harvest or eliminate it before the seed pods get too dry; when dry they break off easily and you might wind up with these tough spiney seed pods everywhere in your lawn, on your dog, on your kids, on your clothes, and eventually inside your house and peircing your family's skin. The seed pods are known to contain a toxin used as a chinese medicine, most of which is contained in the thorns. Removing the thorns by burning or grinding apparently gets rid of mo... read more


On Jan 23, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

A common weed of barnyards and cultivated fields. It is considered invasive in many states.

The stickery seed pods will attach themselves to animal fur or clothing and get a free ride to where they will sprout and grow with abandon.

The plants can get quite large and produce many spiney seed pods....they are considered quite dangerous if livestock ingest them.


On Nov 13, 2004, cherishlife from Pocola, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Arkansas has this plant listed as a noxious weed in the site.


On Aug 31, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is considered a noxious weed in IA and considered invasive in many other states.