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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Annual herb, to 1 m; branches without spines.   Leaves petiolate, broadly deltate, concolorous; simple or 3-5-lobed; base usually cordate in outline but cuneate at the very base. Male capitula terminal on short axillary branchlets. Female capitulum with phyllaries connate around the 2 achenes. Fruit c. 2.3 cm bearing numerous spines with hooked tips.
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© Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings

Source: Flora of Zimbabwe

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Description

This native or adventive plant is a summer annual about 2-4' tall and little branched, except for short side stems appearing from the leaf axils. The stems are round or slightly ribbed. They are often speckled with purple and have short white hairs scattered across the surface. The alternate leaves are up to 8" long and 6" across. They are cordate or ovate-cordate with bases that are well-rounded or indented and tips that are broad and blunt. Their margins are shallowly lobed or coarsely toothed, while the upper surface has a sandpapery texture. Each leaf has a long petiole that is often reddish or reddish green and about as long as the leaf blade. The petioles usually have short white hairs. A single spike-like raceme of compound flowers develops from the axil of each upper leaf. These racemes are shorter than the petioles of the leaves, often 1-4" in length. In addition, the central stem terminates in a spike-like raceme that is similar to the racemes of the leaf axils. Because Common Cocklebur is monoecious, each raceme produces several male compound flowers along its upper half, while several female compound flowers occur in the lower half.  The male compound flowers are about ¼" across, consisting of numerous staminate florets that have stamens with prominent white anthers. Each male compound flower occurs on a short pedicel and is slightly rounded at the top, while at the base there are 1-3 series of white floral bracts. After shedding their pollen, the male flowers quickly fade away. The female compound flowers are up to 1½" long and 1" across. Each female compound flower contains 2 pistillate florets, which are nearly enclosed by a prickly floral bract with a bur-like appearance. The female compound flowers are initially green, but turn brown as they mature and are slow to detach from the racemes. They are sessile or have short petioles. The surface of the floral bract is covered with curly white hairs, while the prickles are hooked at their tips. At the apex of each bur, there are a pair of spines that are longer and more stout than the prickles. At the base of each spine, there is a small opening for the divided style of a female flower. These styles are inconspicuous and wither away in a short period of time. The blooming period occurs during the late summer or early fall, although some plants may bloom a little earlier or later. Pollination is by wind and there is no floral scent. Each female flower within the bur-like bract produces a single oblong seed that more or less tapers to a point at each end. The seeds are often covered with dark membranes. One of the seeds in each bur has the capacity to germinate the following year, while the the germination of the second seed is delayed for at least 2 years. The root system consists of a taproot that is stout and rather woody. This plant reproduces by reseeding itself, and often forms colonies. Cultivation
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Common Cocklebur occurs in most counties of Illinois and is quite common (see Distribution Map). The two varieties that Mohlenbrock (2002) has described, var. canadense and var. glabratum, are both common in Illinois. The pop-up map refers to the distribution of var. canadense only. Common Cocklebur is native to both Eurasia and North America; it is hard to distinguish between native and adventive races of this plant. Habitats include cropland (especially corn fields), fallow fields, the floodplain zone of rivers and ponds, degraded meadows that are poorly drained, dried-up mudholes, stabilized areas of beaches and sand dunes, vacant lots, and waste areas. Disturbed, poorly drained areas are preferred. Faunal Associations
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Eurasia.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants 10–80(–200) cm; nodal spines 0. Leaves: petioles 20–100(–140+) mm; blades suborbiculate to ± pentagonal or deltate, 4–12(–18+) × 3–10(–18+) cm, sometimes palmately 3–5-lobed, abaxial faces green, hirtellous. Burs 10–30+ mm. 2n = 36.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Elevation Range

100-2500 m
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Xanthium americanum Walter; X. chasei Fernald; X. chinense Miller; X. curvescens Millspaugh & Sherff; X. cylindricum Millspaugh & Fernald; X. echinatum Murray; X. echinellum Greene ex Rydberg; X. globosum C. Schull; X. inflexum Mackenzie & Bush; X. italicum Moretti; X. orientale Linnaeus; X. oviforme Wallroth; X. pensylvanicum Wallroth; X. speciosum Kearney, X. strumarium var. canadense (Miller) Torrey & A. Gray, X. strumarium var. glabratum (de Candolle) Cronquist; X. varians Greene; X. wootonii Cockerell
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Type Information

Isotype for Xanthium varians Greene
Catalog Number: US 228570
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): W. N. Suksdorf
Year Collected: 1893
Locality: Colombia River., Klickitat, Washington, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Greene, E. L. 1899. Pittonia. 4: 59.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Isotype for Xanthium speciosum Kearney
Catalog Number: US 313095
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): T. H. Kearney
Year Collected: 1897
Locality: French Broad River, near Wolf Creek Station., Cocke, Tennessee, United States, North America
  • Isotype: Kearney, T. H. 1897. Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 24: 574.
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© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Common Cocklebur occurs in most counties of Illinois and is quite common (see Distribution Map). The two varieties that Mohlenbrock (2002) has described, var. canadense and var. glabratum, are both common in Illinois. The pop-up map refers to the distribution of var. canadense only. Common Cocklebur is native to both Eurasia and North America; it is hard to distinguish between native and adventive races of this plant. Habitats include cropland (especially corn fields), fallow fields, the floodplain zone of rivers and ponds, degraded meadows that are poorly drained, dried-up mudholes, stabilized areas of beaches and sand dunes, vacant lots, and waste areas. Disturbed, poorly drained areas are preferred. Faunal Associations
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Xanthium strumarium

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Xanthium strumarium

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 13
Species With Barcodes: 1
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© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T5 - Secure

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Notes

Comments

Recognition of a dozen or more taxa (treated as species, subspecies, varieties, and/or forms) has been proposed for plants treated together here as Xanthium strumarium. Bases for the various taxa mostly involved subtle differences in the burs.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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