Xanthium strumarium L.

Locations ofXanthium strumarium L. in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Xanthium strumarium L.
Common Name
Common Cocklebur
Xanthium chinense P. Mill; Xanthium echinatum Murr.; Xanthium orientale L.; Xanthium strumarium L. (sensu stricto)
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Xanthium strumarium L.
Flora of the Southeastern U.S. (Weakley et al. 2023) attributes four full species to our area, other sources two or more varieties. The only recent molecular study (Tomasillo 2018, Molec. Phyl. & Evol. 127: 135-145) found support for three species - X. chinense (native), X. orientale (native), and X. strumarium (introduced); of these, X. chinense is reportedly the most abundant. Both Flora of Virginia and the Digital Atlas currently follow FNA in recognizing a single broad species without vars. - often a practical solution for inherently variable, weedy species. It would be desirable to test the results of solid phylogenetic work like Tomasello's (2018) on Virginia plants, but segregates of the Xanthium strumarium complex have almost never been identified in local floristic studies or herbarium material. So until someone is motivated and able to take on the major work this will require, we are unable to map anything but a broadly interpreted X. strumarium.
Floodplain forests and disturbed alluvial soils, streamside gravel and sand bars, interdune swales, dune grasslands, upper beaches and overwash flats, low roadsides, cultivated fields, wet pastures, and waste ground. Frequent throughout, except at higher elevations in the mountains.
Native Status

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