Common cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium). Photo: Betty Marose

Updated: March 3, 2021

Life cycle

Summer annual

Growth habit

Large 2 - 4 ft. high plant with rough, sandpapery, maple-shaped, alternate leaves; stem often purple-spotted; inconspicuous green flowers in leaf axils followed by distinct 1/2 in. prickly burs with hooks.


Reproduces by seed and can be carried long distances because of hooked burs.

Conditions that favor growth

Open ground not planted with grass or another ground cover.

Cultural control

Identify plant, monitor early, manual removal before seeds form; plant grass, ground cover, or cover crop.