by Stephen Mifsud
   13 Jun 2021      ()
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Xanthium spinosum   (Spiny Cocklebur)

Xanthium spinosum   (ASTERACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands at or after year 2000.

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Profile Date Oct-2010 (last update: 12-Jan-2019)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (Oct-2010) Xanthium spinosum retrieved from on 2021-Jun-13

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Xanthium spinosum L.
Published in Sp. Pl. 987 (1753).

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Acanthoxanthium spinosum
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life ]

Plant Family :

Asteraceae Bercht. & J.Presl (=Compositae) (The Daisy or Sunflower Family)
125 species from the Asteraceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

Spiny Cocklebur

Maltese name(s) :

Maltese name not known

Status for Malta :

Introduced species for horticulture (flowering plants) or agriculture (herbs or fruiting trees) usually within the last 30-150 years and persist for long after their original location or site is abandoned. They do not widespread but usually remain as a single tree or a very localised population.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common     Frequent     Scarce     Rare     Very Rare     Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE (annuals)
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection [link]:

Not Protected by Law (LN200/2011 or LN311/2006)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :


Colour of Flowers:


Remarks :

A casual alien species that was not seen in Malta for several decades and consequently believed to be extinct. Specimens were found by the author in Jun 2009

Species Description and Distribution

Habitat in Europe:

Ruderal species often encountered in waste places.

Preferred habitat in Malta:

Rocky valley beds

Botanical Description:

Sp. Pl. 987 (1753). Stems 15-100 cm, much branched, with 1-2 stout, 3-fid, yellow spines in the leaf-axils, the spines rarely more or less connate at the base or replaced by leaf fascicles. Leaves sessile or shortly petiolate; lamina entire or 3- to 5-fid, dark green above, white- or grey-tomentose beneath. Male capitula in terminal inflorescences, the female axillary. Involucre 10-12 x 6-8 mm in fruit, covered with slender spines.

Chromosome number:


Distributional range:

Naturalized in C. & S. Europe casual further north

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):

Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):

Introduced in Albania, Austria and Liechtenstein, the Azores, the Balaeric Islands, Bulgaria, Corse, Crete, Czeck Republic and Slovakia, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Germany, Greece, Switzerland, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Hungary, Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Poland, Romania, Russia and former USSR, Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Turkey (European part)

Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(Euro+Med Checklist, 2017) - Country codes

[nAb(A) AE(G T) nAg nAl nAr nAu(A) nAz Az(F M) aBe(B L) nBH nBl(I M N) Br nBu nCa(C F L T) nCg nCo nCr nCs nCt nCy Da nEg nEs nGa(F) aGe Gg nGr nHe aHo nHs(A S) Hs(G) nHu nIJ nIr nIt Jo nJu aLa nLe nLi nLS aLt nLu nMa nMk nMo nPo nRf(C CS E S) nRm nSa Si(M) nSi(S) nSk nSl nSn aSr nSy nTcs nTn nTu(A E) Uk(K U)]

Images (6 images)
   Xanthium spinosum   -   Image Code: XNTSP-0.
   Xanthium spinosum   -   Image Code: XNTSP-1.
   Xanthium spinosum   -   Image Code: XNTSP-2.
   Xanthium spinosum   -   Image Code: XNTSP-3.
   Xanthium spinosum   -   Image Code: XNTSP-4.
   Xanthium spinosum   -   Image Code: XNTSP-5.

Links & Further info

Google Web

Google Images

Yahoo Web

Yahoo Images




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



The Plant List


Vienna Virt. Hb.





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