Herbs & Plants

Xanthium spinosum

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Botanical Name: Xanthium spinosum
Family: Asteraceae
Subfamily: Asteroideae
Tribe: Heliantheae
Genus: Xanthium
Species: X. spinosum
Order: Asterales

Synonym:  Spiny Clot Burr,  X. canadense. Mill.

Common Names:  Spiny cocklebur, Prickly burweed and Bathurst burr, Cocklebur, Rough cocklebur, Canada cocklebur

Habitat: : Xanthium spinosum, a native of South America, has now spread to at least 39 countries throughout the world, occurring between latitudes 43 egrees S and 50 degrees N. It is widely distributed in the mediterranean region and Europe, throughout most of Australia, in some coastal African countries, and in southern parts of South America and the United States. It is seldom found in the tropics. In California, spiny clotbur is common at low elevations throughout the state. It was introduced to the state, probably by way of Europe, sometime before 1870.
The plant grows along roads, in pastures, meadows, roadsides and disturbed areas. It is sometimes common around waterholes and along floodplains, canals, ditches, creek flats, river terraces, and other moist places

Xanthium spinosum is an erect, rigid, much-branched annual herb, 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.4 m (1ft 4in)   .( Stems are striate, yellowish or brownish gray, and finely pubescent. The cotyledons are linear-lanceolate in shape, differing in appearance from later developing leaves. True leaves are lanceolate, entire, toothed or lobed, 3-8 cm long, 6-26 mm wide, glabrous or strigose above, and silvery-tomentulose beneath. They are dull gray-green above with a conspicuous white midrib and short petioles (1 cm). Each leaf base is armed at the axil with yellow three-pronged spines 2-5 cm long, often opposite in pairs…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Flower heads are in axillary clusters or often solitary. Flowers are inconspicuous, greenish, and monoecious; male flowers in almost globular heads in axils of upper most leaves, and female flowers in axils of lower leaves, developing into a bur. The bur is two–celled, oblong, nearly egg-shaped, slightly flattened, 10-13 mm long, 4 mm wide, pale yellowish, more or less striate, glandular, covered with slender, hooked, glabrous spines from more or less thickened bases, with the two apical beaks short and straight. Each bur contains two flattened, thick-coated, dark brown or black seeds, the lower germinating first.

Xanthium is derived from the Greek, xanthos, meaning “yellow” and is thought to refer to a yellow dye obtainable from some species.
Unlike cocklebur (X. strumarium), spiny clotbur has conspicuous narrower leaves tapering at both ends, short petioles, conspicuous three-pronged spines at the leaf base, and egg-shaped burs covered with hooked, thorny prickles.

Xanthic flowers belong to a type which are yellow in colour and can become white or red but never blue. These plants are spread as weeds or cultivated over a great part of the world.

Cultivation: Requires a sunny position, succeeding in most soils. Prefers a poor dry soil. Hardy to about -15°c. Plants often self sow and in some parts of the world have become noxious weeds.

Propagation: Seed – sow spring or autumn in situ. The seed requires plenty of moisture in order to germinate.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Leaves; Seed.….Leaves and young plants – cooked. They must be thoroughly boiled and then washed. Caution is advised, the plant is probably poisonous. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be used as a piñole. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with flour for making bread, cakes etc. The seed contains about 36.7% protein, 38.6% fat, 5.2% ash. It also contains a glycoside and is probably poisonous.

Part Used in medicines: The whole  herb.

Medicinal  Uses:  The leaves and root are anodyne, antirheumatic, appetizer, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, laxative and sedative. The plant is considered to be useful in treating long-standing cases of malaria   and is used as an adulterant for Datura stramonium. An infusion of the plant has been used in the treatment of rheumatism, diseased kidneys and tuberculosis. It has also been used as a liniment on the armpits to reduce perspiration. The fruits contain a number of medically active compounds including glycosides and phytosterols. They are anodyne, antibacterial, antifungal, antimalarial, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, antitussive, cytotxic, hypoglycaemic and stomachic. They are used internally in the treatment of allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, catarrh, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, diarrhoea, lumbago, leprosy and pruritis. They are also used externally to treat pruritis. The fruits are harvested when ripe and dried for later use. The root is a bitter tonic and febrifuge. It has historically been used in the treatment of scrofulous tumours. A decoction of the root has been used in the treatment of high fevers and to help a woman expel the afterbirth. A decoction of the seeds has been used in the treatment of bladder complaints. A poultice of the powdered seed has been applied as a salve on open sores.

A valuable and sure specific in the treatment of hydrophobia. An active styptic, local and general. Fluid extract, 1 to 2 drachms. 10 grains of the powdered plant, four times daily.

Other Uses:  …………Dye;  Essential;  Repellent;  Tannin....The dried leaves are a source of tannin. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves. The seed powder has been used as a blue body paint. The dried plant repels weevils from stored wheat grain. The seed contains an essential oil.

Known Hazards : Poisonous. Most members of this genus are toxic to grazing animals and are usually avoided by them. The seed also contains toxins

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

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