Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Xanthium spinosum
L., Asteraceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  no

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Common name(s): [more details]

English: Bathurst burr, dagger cocklebur, daggerweed, prickly burweed, spiny burweed, spiny clotbur, spiny cockleburr, thorny burweed

French: lampourde épineuse

Spanish: abrojo, cachurrera menor, cepacaballo, clonqui, concli, pegotes

Habit:  herb

Description:  "Much-branched, somewhat woody annual herb to 0.6 m tall.  Stems and most branchlets or the base of each leaf covered with 3-pronged spinesLeaves divided into irregular lobes, green above, paler below.  Flowers mainly in clusters in the axils of the leaves.  Fruits hard woody burrs, brown, covered with yellowish hairs and numerous hooked spines with 2 taller straight spines at the end"  (Smith, 2002; pp. 67-68).

"Spiny cocklebur is an erect, much branched annual that grows up to three feet high. It reproduces by seed. About one inch long spines are found in leaf axils and at stem nodes. The leaves are shiny dark green and hairy on the upper surface and downy beneath. The leaves are mostly three-lobed with the center lobe  much longer than the other two, and up to three inches long. The flowers are small, inconspicuous, and creamy green. The male flowers are found at the top of the stems and the female flowers are formed lower on the stems. The fruit is more or less an egg-shaped burr, up to one-half inch long, armed with numerous hooked spines, some with one or two straight terminal spines. There are two seeds per burr, flattened, three-eighths inch long and brown in color" (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board).

Habitat/ecology:  "Mainly a pasture or meadow weed, the plant grows along roads and in disturbed areas, and abandoned fields; it is sometimes common around waterholes and along floodplains, canals, ditches, creek flats, river terraces, and other moist places (Holm et al., 1977; pp. 474, 477).  "Grows in a wide variety of habitats; often in disturbed areas such as roadsides, stockyards, bores and abandoned settlements" (Smith, 2002; pp. 67-68). "Spiny cocklebur is adapted to a variety of climates, hence its wide distribution. It is found in a wide variety of soil types growing in cultivated fields, wastelands, farm yards, flood plains, and along waterways" (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board).

Propagation:  "The spiny fruit...adhere to wool, fur, clothing, hay bales, mud, etc. The fruits float and are readily dispersed by water. Fruits are also spread in contaminated pasture seed" (Smith, 2002; pp. 67-68). "Of the two seeds in each burr, one germinates the first spring or summer and the other does not germinate until the second or third year. Some seeds may remain viable for up to eight years" (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board).

Native range:  South America (Smith, 2002; pp. 67-68).

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
Skottsberg, Carl (1953) (p. 225)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más a Tierra (Robinson Crusoe Island) introduced
invasive
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (p. 558)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John (2011)
Chile (offshore islands)
Juan Fernández Islands
Isla Más Afuera (Alejandro Selkirk Island) introduced
invasive
Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido (2006) (p. 558)
Fiji
Fiji Islands
Viti Levu Island introduced
Smith, Albert C. (1991) (p. 290)
Voucher cited: DA L.13382. (Single specimen, present status unknown).
Kiribati
Line Islands
Teraina (Washington) Island introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island)
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island) introduced
invasive
Holm, Leroy G./Plucknett, D. L./Pancho, J. V./Herberger, J. P. (1977) (p. 476)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
New South Wales introduced
invasive
Holm, Leroy G./Plucknett, D. L./Pancho, J. V./Herberger, J. P. (1977) (pp. 476-477)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Northern Territory introduced
invasive
Smith, Nicholas M. (2002) (p. 67)
Australia
Australia (continental)
Queensland introduced
invasive
Smith, Nicholas M. (2002) (p. 67)
Chile (continental)
Chile
Chile (Republic of) native
Belov, Michail (2013)
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) introduced
Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro (2004) (p. 190)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 227)
"Waste places, coastal sites, pasture, cultivated land, gardens".
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (Oregon) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)
United States (west coast)
United States (west coast states)
USA (California) introduced
U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. (2013)

Control: 

Physical:  "Single pants can be hoed".

Chemical:  "Chemical control is done by spraying plants with 2,4-D, MCPA or imazaquin.  Control measures should aim at preventing seed formation"  (Weber, 2003; p. 456).

Additional information:
Element stewardship abstract from The Nature Conservancy (PDF format).
Fact sheet from the Government of Queensland, Australia (PDF format).
Information from the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.
Photos and additional information at the Environment Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, web site of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
Photos and other information from Chileflora.

Additional online information about Xanthium spinosum is available from the Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR).

Information about Xanthium spinosum as a weed (worldwide references) may be available from the Global Compendium of Weeds (GCW).

Taxonomic information about Xanthium spinosum may be available from the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

References:

Atkinson, Rachel/Sawyer, John. 2011. Naturalized species in the Juan Fernández Archipelago, Chile. Unpublished spreadsheet.

Belov, Michail. 2013. Chileflora (online resource).

Danton, Philippe/Perrier, Christophe/Martinez Reyes, Guido. 2006. Nouveau catalogue de la flore vaculaire de l'archipel Juan Fernández (Chile) [Nuevo catálogo de la flora vacular del Archipélago Juan Fernández (Chile)]. Acta Bot. Gallica 153(4):399-587.

Holm, Leroy G./Plucknett, D. L./Pancho, J. V./Herberger, J. P. 1977. The world’s worst weeds: distribution and biology. East-West Center/University Press of Hawaii. 609 pp.

Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro. 2004. Invasive alien species in Japan: the status quo and the new regulation for prevention of their adverse effects. Global Environmental Research 8(2)/2004: 171-191.

Skottsberg, Carl. 1953. The natural history of Juan Fernandez and Easter Island. Vol. II, Botany. Almqvist &l; Wiksells, Uppsala. 960 pp.

Smith, Albert C. 1991. Flora Vitiensis nova: a new flora of Fiji. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai, Kauai, Hawaii. Volume 5. 626 pp.

Smith, Nicholas M. 2002. Weeds of the wet/dry tropics of Australia - a field guide. Environment Centre NT, Inc. 112 pp.

U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Res. Serv. 2013. National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online searchable database.

U.S. Dept. Agr., Nat. Res. Cons. Serv. 2013. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. 1988. Flora of New Zealand, Volume IV: Naturalised pteridophytes, gymnosperms, dicotyledons. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch. 1365 pp.

Weber, Ewald. 2003. Invasive plants of the World. CABI Publishing, CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 548 pp.


Need more info? Have questions? Comments? Information to contribute? Contact PIER! (pier@hear.org)

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This page was created on 9 APR 2005 and was last updated on 12 APR 2013.