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Rough Cocklebur

Xanthium strumarium


Xanthium strumarium is a species of annual plants belonging to the Asteraceae family. This photograph shows the seeds that give the plant its name.


It probably originates in North America and has been extensively naturalized elsewhere. This one was observed along a pond dam at Brick Pond Park in North Augusta (Aiken County), SC.


It's also called Rough Cocklebur, Clotbur, Common Cocklebur, Large Cocklebur, and Woolgarie Bur. The plant may have some medicinal properties and has been used in traditional medicine in South Asia and traditional Chinese medicine. In Telugu, this plant is called by name Marula Matangi. However, while small quantities of parts of the mature plants may be consumed, the seeds and seedlings should not be eaten in large quantities because they contain significant concentrations of an extremely toxic chemical, carboxyatratyloside. The mature plant also contains at least four other toxins. Animals have also been known to die after eating the plants. A patient consuming a traditional Chinese medicine containing cocklebur (called Cang Er Zi Wan) developed muscle spasms. It was responsible for at least 19 deaths and 76 illnesses in Sylhet District, Bangladesh, 2007. People ate large amounts of the plants, locally called ghagra shak, because they were starving during a monsoon flood and no other plants were available. The symptoms included vomiting and altered mental states, followed by unconsciousness.

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North Augusta, South Carolina, USA

Spotted on Apr 2, 2013
Submitted on Apr 7, 2013


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