Cocklebur is a coarse, somewhat thick-stemmed
annual growing to about 5' tall with alternate, thick and sandpapery
leaves that are long-petioled, deltoid to ovate, 4" to 6"
long, irregularly-toothed to lobed, green both above and below, and
± cordate at the base. It usually inhabits sandy or grassy
areas in moist or dry streambeds, next to water courses, or in other
disturbed locations. Cocklebur is a monoecious species with separate
staminate and pistillate flowers on the same plant, the pistillate heads
being clustered below the staminate ones. The pistillate heads
are two-flowered and two-beaked, lacking a corolla, and having style
branches that are exserted through the beaks. The staminate heads
are many-flowered with subglobose involucres, fused filaments, free
anthers, and slender ovaries. The bur is 3/4" to 1-1/2"
long, is covered with many stout prickles, and has two incurved hooks
at the end. Cocklebur may be found throughout the California Floristic
Province and in the deserts, blooming from July to October, and is a
worldwide species. Its relative, spiny cocklebur (Xanthium spinosum),
in which the leaf axils are armed with three-forked spines, is less
Click here for Latin name derivations: 1) Xanthium
Pronunciation: ZAN-thee-um stroo-MARE-ee-um.
Click here for Botanical