They are coarse, herbaceous annual plants growing to 50-120 cm tall. The leaves are spirally arranged, with a deeply toothed margin. Some species, notably X. spinosum, are also very thorny with long, slender spines at the leaf bases.
Unlike many other members of the family Asteraceae, whose seeds are airborne with a plume of silky hairs resembling miniature parachutes, cocklebur seeds are produced in a hard, spiny, globose or oval double-chambered, single-seeded bur 8-20 mm long. It is covered with stiff, hooked spines, which sticks to fur and clothing and can be quite difficult to extract. These remarkable burred seeds have allowed this plant to be carried all over the world by unsuspecting travelers. This plant reproduces only by means of its seed.
Cockleburs are short-day plants, meaning they only initiate flowering when the days are getting shorter in the late summer and fall, typically from July to October in the northern hemisphere. They can also flower in the tropics where the daylength is constant.Selected species The number of species is disputed between different authors, with some recognising as few as three species in the genus.
The plant also has been used for medicinal properties and for making yellow dye. The many species of this plant, which can be found in many areas, may actually be varieties of two or three species. Asian species are also used in Chinese traditional medicine.
This plant is a beneficial weed, repelling army worms and other pests from nearby domesticated plants.
There are two other minor uses for cockleburs. Because they readily attach to clothing, they can be used as "darts" in a cocklebur dart game. The burs can also be stuck together to make models.
MEMOIR; Minnesota memoirist cuts to the bone; In these clear-eyed tales of Minnesota farm life, there are cockleburs in the laundry, a dad mad enough to kill, a careworn mom and a milkman to die for.(ENTERTAINMENT)(Book Review)
Oct 16, 2005; Byline: Cherie Parker Special to the Star Tribune Every year at the Minnesota State Fair, lines of city folk stroll through the...