cocklebur (Common name)

General poisoning notes:

Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium) is a naturalized annual herb found across southern Canada, where it grows in wet soils and agricultural fields. The toxic glycoside carboxyatractyloside is found in the seeds and the cotyledons of seedlings. Livestock are most commonly poisoned after ingesting the cotyledons (seed leaves) of young seedlings. The toxin quickly dissipates as the seedlings grow. Cattle, horses, and swine are often poisoned and die after ingesting this plant. This plant can produce allergic contact dermatitis in susceptible humans (Mitchell and Rook 1979, Weaver and Lechowicz 1983, Burrows and Tyrl 1989).

References:

  • Burrows, G. E., Tyrl, R. J. 1989. Plants causing sudden death in livestock. Clin. Toxicol., 5: 263-289.
  • Cole, R. J., Cutler, H. G., Stuart, B. P. 1989. Carboxyatractyloside. Pages 253-263 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. II. Glycosides. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 277 pp.
  • Martin, T. M., Stair, E. L., Dawson, L. 1986. Cocklebur poisoning in cattle. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., 189: 562-563.
  • Mitchell, J. C., Rook, A. 1979. Botanical dermatology. Greenglass Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. 787 pp.
  • Weaver, S. E., Lechowicz, M. J. 1983. The biology of Canadian weeds. 56. Xanthium strumarium L. Can. J. Plant Sci., 63: 211-225.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Xanthium strumarium L.
Vernacular name(s):
cocklebur
Scientific family name:
Compositae
Vernacular family name:
composite

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Xanthium strumarium

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

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Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

The toxin is found in the seeds and in the cotyledons (or seed leaves) of the seedlings (Cole et al. 1980).

Toxic parts:

  • seedlings
  • seeds

References:

  • Cole, R. J., Stuart, B. P., Lansden, J. A., Cox, R. H. 1980. Isolation and redefinition of the toxic agent from cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium). J. Agric. Food Chem., 28: 1330-1332.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

A highly toxic glycoside, carboxyatractyloside, is contained in the seeds and seedlings of cocklebur. The amount of the chemical was measured at 0.457% in the seeds and 0.12% in the seedling at the two-leaf stage. The poison occurs only in the cotyledons or seed leaves of the seedlings. The toxin readily disappears after germination (Cole et al. 1980).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • carboxyatractyloside

References:

  • Cole, R. J., Cutler, H. G., Stuart, B. P. 1989. Carboxyatractyloside. Pages 253-263 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. II. Glycosides. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 277 pp.
  • Cole, R. J., Stuart, B. P., Lansden, J. A., Cox, R. H. 1980. Isolation and redefinition of the toxic agent from cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium). J. Agric. Food Chem., 28: 1330-1332.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Poisoning after ingesting cocklebur cotyledons from seedlings has resulted in symptoms including anorexia, depression, nausea, dyspnea, opisthotonos, and spasmodic running motions. Kidney discoloration and liver discoloration with acute hepatocellular centrilobular necrosis also occurs. Death often occurs, and treatment is symptomatic ( Martin et al. 1986).

References:

  • Martin, T. M., Stair, E. L., Dawson, L. 1986. Cocklebur poisoning in cattle. J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., 189: 562-563.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

References:

  • Mitchell, J. C., Rook, A. 1979. Botanical dermatology. Greenglass Ltd, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. 787 pp.

Rodents

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Experimental use of carboxyatractyloside (CAT) in mice and rats, had an LD-50 (i.p. or injections into the peritoneal or abdominal cavity) of:

  • 10.6 (7.5-15.1) mg/kg for mice 2.9 (1.5-5.8) mg/kg for rats
  • Postmortem examination revealed prominent hepatic lobular accentuation in rats (Cole et al. 1989).

References:

  • Cole, R. J., Cutler, H. G., Stuart, B. P. 1989. Carboxyatractyloside. Pages 253-263 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. II. Glycosides. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 277 pp.

Swine

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Pigs are poisoned after ingesting cotyledons equal to 1-2% of body weight or 20% of macerated burs containing seeds. Intoxication can occur within a few hours and symptoms include anorexia, depression, weakness, a tucked-up appearance, and spasmodic muscular activity. Postmortem findings reveal extensive serofibrinous effusions of protein- rich fluid in the peritoneal cavity. Scattered pericardial and subcutaneous lesions may also occur. Hepatic necrosis can occur (Burrows and Tyrl 1989).

References:

  • Burrows, G. E., Tyrl, R. J. 1989. Plants causing sudden death in livestock. Clin. Toxicol., 5: 263-289.

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