Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Xanthium strumarium


SPECIES: Xanthium strumarium
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1992. Xanthium strumarium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : XANSTR SYNONYMS : Xanthium italicum Moretti Xanthium pensylvanicum Wallr. Xanthium chinense Miller Xanthium echinatum Murray Xanthium americanum Walter Xanthium cylindraceum Millsp. & Sherff SCS PLANT CODE : XAST XASTC XASTG COMMON NAMES : common cocklebur cocklebur clotbur sheepbur ditchbur TAXONOMY : The genus Xanthium exhibits considerable variation in fruit morphology, and in the past more than 20 species have been recognized within this genus [32]. Love and Dansereau's [18] revision of the Xanthium genus reduced the number of Xanthium species to two: common cocklebur (X. strumarium L.) and spiny cocklebur (X. spinosum L.). This classification is widely accepted today. Currently recognized common cocklebur varieties include [12]: X. s. var. canadense (P. Mill.) T. & G. X. s. var. glabratum (DC.) Cronq. X. s. var. strumarium LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Xanthium strumarium
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Common cocklebur has a nearly worldwide distribution between latitude 53 degrees N. and 33 degrees S. In North America it is widespread across southern Canada, most of the contiguous United States, and Mexico. Areas devoid of this plant in the United States include northeastern New York and Maine. It is rare in mountainous terrain [28,32]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES31 Shinnery FRES32 Texas savanna FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon - juniper FRES36 Mountain grasslands FRES38 Plains grasslands FRES39 Prairie FRES40 Desert grasslands FRES41 Wet grasslands STATES : AL AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WV WI WY AB BC MB NB NT NS ON PE PQ SK YT MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 1 Northern Pacific Border 2 Cascade Mountains 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 5 Columbia Plateau 6 Upper Basin and Range 7 Lower Basin and Range 8 Northern Rocky Mountains 9 Middle Rocky Mountains 10 Wyoming Basin 11 Southern Rocky Mountains 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont 14 Great Plains 15 Black Hills Uplift 16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland K025 Alder - ash forest K027 Mesquite bosque K030 California oakwoods K033 Chaparral K035 Coastal sagebrush K038 Great Basin sagebrush K039 Blackbrush K040 Saltbush - greasewood K041 Creosotebush K043 Paloverde - cactus shrub K046 Desert: vegetation largely lacking K048 California steppe K098 Northern floodplain forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K101 Elm - ash forest K102 Beech - maple forest K103 Mixed mesophytic forest K104 Appalachian oak forest SAF COVER TYPES : 222 Black cottonwood - willow 235 Cottonwood - willow 239 Pinyon - juniper 242 Mesquite 255 California coast live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Common cocklebur occasionally forms a dominant ground cover in open riparian woodlands, intermittent streambeds, and beach habitats [10,17,20]. A common cocklebur habitat type was described in the following publication: Range ecology and relations of mule deer, elk, and cattle in the Missouri River Breaks, Montana [20].


SPECIES: Xanthium strumarium
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Common cocklebur is considered a nuisance by livestock producers. The plant grows in barnyards, pastures, and around farm ponds where it is commonly encountered by livestock. The spine-covered burs become entangled in the hides of farm animals. Wool value is decreased if entangled with common cocklebur [32]. Common cocklebur seeds and cotyledon leaves are poisonous to all classes of livestock. Beyond the cotyledon stage, plants are not poisonous. Consumption of seeds is fatal at about 0.3 percent of an animal's body weight; however, the seeds are rarely eaten. Poisoning usually occurs from consumption of seedlings. It takes several hundred coytledons (about 1 to 2 percent of body weight) to poison pigs [3,14]. Mourning doves eat common cocklebur seeds to a limited extent [22]. PALATABILITY : Common cocklebur is unpalatable to all classes of livestock. Adult plants, however, are relatively nutritious [see Nutritional Value]. Its unpalatability is apparently due to the rough texture of stems and leaves [21,32]. In a ranking of foods eaten by Rocky Mountain elk, Kufeld [16] listed common cocklebur as a "highly valuable" elk forage. The ranking was based on one study conducted in Montana. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : A 3-year study which analyzed the nutritional parameters of weedy species found that common cocklebur foliage in June and July is only slightly less nutritious than alfalfa. Over the 3-year period, crude protein and in vitro digestible dry matter in July averaged 24 and 77 percent, respectively [21]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : In the United States, common cocklebur is a major weed in cotton and soybean fields. Infestations in soybean fields can cause severe crop losses, as much as 60 to 75 percent [32]. Common cocklebur is effectively controlled by a number of soil- or foliar-applied systemic herbicides commonly used in agricultural fields [30,32].


SPECIES: Xanthium strumarium
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Common cocklebur is a native, broadleaved, taprooted, annual forb [11,33]. Stems are erect, ridged, rough and hairy, and frequently branched, resulting in somewhat bushy plants from 8 to 59 inches (20-150 cm) tall. It has small, green unisexual flowers occurring in separate clusters at the end of the branches and main stem. The fruit is a brown, hard, woody bur from 0.4 to 0.8 inch long and covered with stout, hooked prickles. Each fruit contains two seeds [32]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Therophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Common cocklebur reproduces by seed only. Pollination and fruit production: Pollen transfer is by wind. The plant is self-compatible and predominantly self-pollinated. Common cocklebur may also set seed without fertilization of the ovule. Because of self-compatibility and apomixis, local populations are often genetically very similar. A single, open-grown plant typically produces 400 to 500 fruits [14,32]. Fruit dispersal: The fruits cling to the hide of animals and the clothing of humans and are dispersed in that manner. Fruits not transported by animals fall from the plant during the fall or winter [18,32]. In riparian habitats, fruits on the soil surface may later be dispersed by water as they float for up to 30 days [32]. The fruit does not dehisce, and thus seeds germinate within the fruit. Seed viability, dormancy, and germination: Seed viability is usually high, at least 80 percent [32]. Each bur contains two seeds, one larger than the other. The large seed is nondormant and typically germinates the first spring following production, while the smaller seed germinates later in the season or, more frequently, the following year [32]. Occasionally, the two seeds germinate simultaneously. Depth of burial also influences germination. Seeds lying on the soil surface and those buried more than 6 inches (15 cm) below the soil surface rarely germinate. In Illinois, seed buried in November at various depths in silty loam soil began to emerge after April 1 and continued emerging until May 19. Maximum seedling emergence was from seed buried at 1 or 2 inches (2.5 and 5.1 cm) [27]. Another study found that 11 to 16 percent of common cocklebur seeds germinated after 30 months of burial at depths ranging from 3 to 9 inches (8-38 cm) [6]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Common cocklebur occurs primarily in disturbed, open habitats. It grows in cultivated fields, vacant lots, sandpits, and dry washes; on beaches and sand dunes; and along the shores of ponds and rivers, especially riverbeds left barren by receding floodwaters [14,18,28,32]. In noncultivated settings, it primarily occupies beaches and dunes in eastern North America and floodplains in the West. In ruderal habitats, such as agricultural fields, common cocklebur often occurs in dense stands, but in natural habitats, such as along shorelines, it often occurs as scattered individuals [18,32]. Common cocklebur is tolerant of a variety of soil conditions ranging from moist clay to dry sand but grows best on compact sandy soil that is slightly moist below the soil surface and contains a small amount of organic matter [32]. It is tolerant of flooding at all growth stages [32]. Herbaceous associates in various habitats are as follows [10,17,20,26]: Habitat Associated Herbs dry, scoured washes within wild mustard (Brassica campestris) southern California white sweetclover (Melilotus albus) chaparral (Ceanothus spp.- Artemisia spp.) moist and alkaline beds of Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis) intermittent water courses in prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) the Missouri River Breaks of foxtail barley (Hordeum jubatum) Montana Mexican dock (Rumex mexicanus) yellow sweetclover (M. officinalis) cottonwood (Populus fremontii) prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) bottomland along the South cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) Platte River in Colorado hemp dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) curly dock (R. crispus) guara (Guara parviflora) poison hemlock (Conium maculatum) common reed (Phragmites australis) coastal beaches and sandpits sea-rocket (Cakile edentula) of Massachusetts seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Initial Community Species Common cocklebur is a weed of ruderal (sandpits, old fields, cultivated fields, etc.) and naturally disturbed habitats (beaches, dunes, and floodplains) [1,18,28]. As a pioneer, it persists only as long as the ground ramains mostly bare and the site remains unshaded. It rarely grows in sod, and plants will not flower or fruit in full shade [18,32]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Seed germination: Illinois - April through mid-May, with lesser numbers through June. Small germination flushes occur throughout the summer with adequate moisture [32]. southern Ontario - late May [32]. Flowering: Flowering is controlled by photoperiod. The plant will not flower at all or only poorly when day length exceeds 14 hours. Thus in the northern portion of its range, flowering does not occur until late summer [18]. Flowering time by state is as follows: Carolinas - July to frost [23] Colorado - July to October [5] Kansas - July to November [1] Montana - August to September [5] North Dakota - July to September [5] Wyoming - July to September [34] Utah - July to September [34] Seed dispersal: Seeds ripen in the fall. Fruits not removed by animals fall off the plant in the winter or occasionally remain on the plant until the next spring [18].


SPECIES: Xanthium strumarium
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Most postfire environments are favorable for the establishment of common cocklebur, which requires bare ground and full sunlight for germination. Postfire establishment would depend, however, on local seed sources. These would include animal- or water-transported off-site seeds and/or on-site soil-stored seeds. Common cocklebur is an annual that survives fire only if the seeds survive. This seems likely because the seeds are encased by a hard, woody bur and are thus somewhat insulated from the heat of fire [12]. Seeds which become even shallowly buried by soil are further insulated by heat during fire. Seedbanking, at least to a limited extent, is probable, since some seeds have innate dormancy for 1 or more years [18]. No fire studies have been conducted on common cocklebur. Discussions by Duabenmire [4] and Vogl [29], however, suggest that seeds of most annuals will survive grassland fires if they on the ground at the time of burning. This is because the fire front passes quickly, which prevents high soil surface temperatures lethal to seeds. In beach and dune habitats, common cocklebur typically occurs in sparsely populated communities with much bare ground between individuals [17,18]. Here fire spread seems unlikely. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community) Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Xanthium strumarium


SPECIES: Xanthium strumarium
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Proceedings, Arid lands conference; 1985; Tucson, AZ. [Place of publication unknown]: Bellhaven/Westview Press: 1395-1405. [9823] 26. Sedgwick, James A.; Knopf, Fritz L. 1990. Habitat relationships and nest site characteristics of cavity-nesting birds in cottonwood floodplains. Journal of Wildlife Management. 54(1): 112-124. [11105] 27. Stoller, E. W.; Wax, L. M. 1973. Periodicity of germination and emergence of some annual weeds. Weed Science. 21(6): 574-580. [19607] 28. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 1971. Common weeds of the United States. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 463 p. [2378] 29. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 30. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon State Office. 1985. Final Northwest Area noxious weed control program environmental impact statement. Portland, OR. 295 p. [12796] 31. Hunter, William C.; Carter, Michael F.; Pashley, David N.; Barker, Keith. 1993. The partners in flight species prioritzation scheme. In: Finch, Deborah M.; Stangel, Peter W., eds. Status and management of neotropical migratory birds: Proceedings; 1992 September 21-25; Estes Park, CO. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-229. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 109-119. [2433] 32. Weaver, Susan E.; Lechowicz, Martin J. 1982. The biology of Canadian weeds. 56. Xanthium strumarium L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 63: 211-225. [19608] 33. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944] 34. Whitson, Tom D., ed. 1987. Weeds and poisonous plants of Wyoming and Utah. Res. Rep. 116-USU. 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