Characteristics and care of Xanthium strumarium

Xanthium strumarium also known as Common Burdock, Caltrop, Cachurro, Arrancamoños or Cadillos . It belongs to the compound family, being native to North America, but it appears throughout Europe and Asia as an alien.

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Xanthium strumarium characteristics

Herbaceous annual plant that can reach a height of 120 cm, depending on the conditions in which it is found.

It usually develops a sparse bush, with erect and pubescent stems.

The leaves are simple, lanceolate, with long and sometimes reddish petioles, with 3 toothed lobes, of green color.

The flowers are unisexual, being male and female, in different inflorescences, they appear in axillary chapters. It blooms in the summer.

The fruit is achene, with the involvement covered with thorns, with a pointed tip and a terminal stinger. Thanks to this, the animals are spreading this species.

Xanthium strumarium care

This plant occurs in abandoned areas, either on roadsides, river gravels and beaches, and it can also appear in crops.

In gardening  it is not usually used. However, in medicine its roots and leaves are used due to its diuretic, emollient, hepatic, cholagogue and depurative properties for the liver.

It is a species that needs to be in full sun, but can withstand shade. It resists salinity very well.

As for the soil, it grows in dry to humid soils, with a pH of 4.5-7.5.

It requires abundant watering and is propagated by means of seeds.


To prepare this plant in infusion, you should cook 30 g of leaves per one liter of water. Serve and drink throughout the day.

It can also be used as a tinctorial plant, providing a yellow colorant.

Consumption of seeds produces nausea, depression, weakness, vomiting, hypothermia, rapid pulse and depression.

It should be mentioned that it is a toxic species due to the presence of diterpenes. Therefore, the sale to the public is prohibited or restricted.

It is a considerable problem in corn and sunflower crops.

What do you think of this species? Did you know it?

Image courtesy of: Forest and Kim Starr

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