Botanical name: Xanthium strumarium Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Synonyms: Xanthium indicum
All of us have known this plant from our childhood. One can’t miss it when the seeds are ripe. The fruits are covered with numerous hooks and kids have fun throwing it at people and sticking it to their woollen clothing. It is assumed the plant originated in Central America, but is widely naturalized world over, probably because of its ingenious technique of transporting its seeds on animal fur. The plant has large and broad leaves, light and bright green in color in an alternate pattern with irregular lobes and relatively inconspicuous teeth. Stems turn maroon to black when mature, with an elliptic or egg shaped fruit clusters growing nestled around the stem. Common Cocklebur is an annual herb with a short, stout, hairy stem. Flower heads occur in racemes in leaf axils or at the end of branches. The flowers are white or green, numerous, male upper most, female ovoid, covered with hooked bristles. Fruit is obovoid, enclosed in the hardened involucre, with 2 hooked beaks and hooked bristles. Flowering: August-September.
Medicinal uses: The whole plant, specially root and fruit, is used as medicine. According to Ayurveda, X. strumarium is cooling, laxative, fattening, anthelmintic, alexiteric, tonic, digestive, antipyretic, and improves appetite, voice, complexion, and memory. It cures leucoderma, biliousness, poisonous bites of insects, epilepsy, salivation and fever.
Identification credit: Eby Abraham
The flower labeled Common Cocklebur is ...