The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!



    Scientific Names


    • Xanthium strumarium L.
    • Compositae
    • Composite family

    Common Names

    • Cocklebur
    • Hsi-erh (Chinese name)
    • Back to Top

      Parts Usually Used

      Leaves, root
      Back to Top

      Description of Plant(s) and Culture

      Cocklebur is a variable weedy annual plant that grows to 5 feet in height. The leaves are oval to heart-shaped, somewhat lobed or toothed, on long stalks. The green flowers are inconspicuous. The fruits are oval, with crowded hooked prickles, often called burrs. Blooms September to November.
      Back to Top

      Where Found

      Found in waste places.
      Back to Top

      Medicinal Properties

      Antispasmodic, analgesic, alterative, antibacterial, antifungal, diuretic, febrifuge, sedative
      Back to Top

      Biochemical Information

      Xanthostrumarin, resin, fatty oil, alkaloids, organic acid, vitamin C, ceryl alcohol
      Back to Top

      Legends, Myths and Stories

      This weed is very obnoxious to contact; the seed pods tend to adhere to animal fur and human clothing. Often transplanted throughout an area by clinging to the fur of animals and dropping at distances to become wider spread and more obnoxious. It is a very valuable therapeutic medicinal used by the Chinese for rheumatic pains and aches as well as sinus blockage. Also used as a yellow dye.

      Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria L.) is sometimes called cocklebur, but this herb belongs to the rose family and is no relation to the true cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium L.)
      Back to Top


      Cocklebur was once used for rabies, fevers, malaria, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis with headaches, chronic lumbago, leprosy, and pruritis (severe itching) of the skin. Native Americans used the leaf tea for kidney diseases, rheumatism, arthritis, tuberculosis (TB), colds, as a blood tonic, and diarrhea. The Chinese had similar uses.
      Back to Top

      Nutrient Content

      Vitamin C
      Back to Top


      Most cocklebur species are toxic to livestock and are usually avoided by them. Seeds contain toxins, but the seed oil has served as lamp fuel.
      Back to Top


      Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

      Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

      Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

      Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

      Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

      Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

      Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

      Back to Top