Cocklebur Toxins Against Hostile Surroundings and Its Pharmacological Properties
  • Joseph Seckbach
Part of the Cellular Origin, Life in Extreme Habitats and Astrobiology book series (COLE, volume 16)


Cockleburs (Xanthiumspp.) are genera of flowering plants in the family of Asteraceae (Compositae), native to the Americas and eastern Asia. The number of species is debatable, ranging from a few to a dozen, and they are a model of plant–animal interaction. The name Xanthiumoriginated from “xanthos” meaning yellow (the fruit turns from green to yellow and finally to brown). Many plants contain defense structures located as external projections (thorns, burning hairs, repulsive odors, etc.), while other plants accumulate internal toxic compounds against their attackers and external assaults. These toxic plants belong to several botanical families. Among the poison plants is the Nettle (Urtica) which contains burning acids in its hairs. Others possess toxic compounds in their leaves, fruits, seeds, or bulbs. Among them are the poison ivy, black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), daffodils bulbs, oleander leaves, dumb cane (Dieffernbachiawhich possess them in all parts), castor bean seeds, wisteria (in their seeds, pods), oaks (within their foliage, acorns), mistletoe (in berries), nightshade (Datura), and Xanthiumspp. the cocklebur weeds, family Asteraceae (Compositae). The leaves of noxious cocklebur weed contain xanthanolies, such as xanthinin and xanthatin, which serve as plant regulators – and growth inhibitors – and contain other toxins. Recently, this plant has been turned into a useful medical herb.


Circadian Clock Black Locust Robinia Pseudoacacia Anti Diarrheal Activity Burning Acid 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Akter, R., Hasan, S.M.R., Hossain, Md. M., Jamila, M., Mazumder, Md. E.H. and Rahaman, S. (2009) In vitroantioxidatnt and in vivoantidiarrhoeal activity of hydromethnolic extract of Xanthiuim IndicumKoenig. Leaves. Eur. J. Sci. Res. 33(2): 305–312.Google Scholar
  2. Ancuceanu, R.V. and Istudor, V. (2004) Pharmacologically active natural compounds for lung cancer. Altern. Med. Rev. 9(4): 402–419.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Cashmore, A.R., Jarillo, J.A., Wu, Y.-J. and Liu D. (1999) Cryptochromes: Blue light receptors for plants and animals. Sci. 284(5415): 760–765.Google Scholar
  4. Cerdeiras, M.P., Alborés, S., Etcheverry, S., Lucián, V., Soubes, M. and Vázquez, A. (2007) Antimicrobial activity of Xanthium cavanillesii extract. Pharm. Biol. 45(3): 251–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Favier, L.S., Maria, A.O.M., Wendel, G.H., Borkowski, E.J., Giordano, O.S., Pelzer, L. and Tonn, C.E. (2005) Anti-ulcerogenic activity of Xanthium cavanillesiiin rats. J. Ethnopharmacol. 100(3): 260–267.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ginesta-Peris, E., Grarcia-Breijo, F.J. and Primo-Yúfera, E. (1994) Antimicrobial activity of xanthatin from Xanthium spinosumL. Lett. Appl. Microbiol. 18(4): 206–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Joshi, S.P., Rojatkar R. and Nagasampagi, B. (1977) Antimalarial activity of Xanthium strumarium.J. Med. Aromat. Pt. Sci. 19: 366–368.Google Scholar
  8. Khan, A.A. (1963) Isolation and characterization of inhibitors from Xanthiumand their relation to photomorphogenesis. Ph.D. thesis, University of Chicago. Chicago, IL, USA.Google Scholar
  9. Khan, A.A. (1975) Primary, preventive and permissive roles of hormones in plant system. Bot. Rev. 41(4): 391–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kovács, A., Vasas, A., Forgo, P., Réthy, B., Zupkó I. and Hohmann, J. (2009) Xanthanolides with antitumour activity from Xanthium italicum.Z. Naturforsch. 64: 343–349.Google Scholar
  11. Levy, O., Appelbaum, L., Leggat, W., Gothlif, Y., Hayward, D.C., Miller, D.J. and Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2007) Light-responsive cryptochromes from a simple multicellular animal, the coral Acropora millepora.Science 318(No. 5849): 467–470.Google Scholar
  12. Masvingwe, C. and Mavenyengwa, M. (1998) Toxicological evaluation of the plant Xanthium ­strumariumin pigs in Zimbabewe. J. Venom Anim. Toxins 4(2): 113–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Olivaro, C. and Vazquez, A. (2009) A new bioactive xanthanolide from X. cavanillesii.Nat. Prod. Res. 23(4): 388–392.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ramírez-Erosa, I., Huang, Y., Hickie, R.A., Sutherland, R.G. and Barl, B. (2007) Xanthatin and ­xanthinosin from the burs of Xanthium strumariumL. as potential anticancer agents. Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 85(11): 1160–1172.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Raushanara, A., Hasan, S.M.R., Hossain, M.M., Jamila, M., Mazumder, M.E.H. and Rahaman, S. (2009) In vitroantioxidatnt and in vivoantidiarrhoeal activity of hydromethnolic extract of Xanthiuim IndicumKoenig. Leaves. Eur. J. Sci. Res. 33(2): 305–312.Google Scholar
  16. Roussakis, Ch., Chinou, I., Vayas, C., Harvala, C. and Verbist, J.F. (1994) Cytotoxic activity of ­xanthatin and the crude extract of Xanthium strumarium. Plant Med. 60: 473–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Scherer, R., Duarte, M.C.T., Catharino, R.R., Nachtigall, F.M., Eberlin, M.N., Teixeira Fiho, J. and Godoy, H.T. (2009) Xanthium strumariumL antimicrobial and carboxyatractyloside analysis through electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Rev. Bras. Pl. Med. Botucatu 11(2): 159–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Seckbach, J (1965) Studies on the control of axillary buds of Xanthium pensylvanicumand on the occurrence and properties of xanthinin deacylase. Dissertation, Ph.D. Division of Biological ­Sciences, the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  19. Seckbach, J. (1969) Iron content and ferritin in leaves of iron treated Xanthium pensylvanicumplants. Plants Physiol. 44: 816–820.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Seckbach, J. (1971) Iron ferritin and plastid inclusions in leaf cells of iron treated Xanthiumplants. Cytobios 4: 183–192.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Seckbach, J. (1972) Electron microscopical observations on leaf ferritin from iron treated Xanthiumplants: localization and diversity in the organelle. Ultrastr. Res. 39: 65–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Seckbach, J. (1982) Ferreting out the secrets of plant ferritin – A review. J. Plant Nutr. 5(4–7): 369–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Seckbach. J. (1963) The effect of photoperiod and light quality on the xanthatin-xanthinin content of leaves of Xanthium pensylvanicum. Dissertation, Master of Science, Division of Biological ­Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  24. Talakal, T.S., Dwivedi, S.K. and Sharma, S.R. (1995) In vitro and in vivo antitrypanosomal activity of Xanthium strumariumleaves. J. Ethnopharmacol. 49(3): 141–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Tucker, D.J. and Mansfield, T.A. (1971) Effect of light quality on apical dominance in Xanthium ­strumariumand the associated changes in endogenous leaves of abscisic acid and cytokinins. Planta 102(2): 140–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Yokoe, H., Yoshida, M. and Shishido, K. (2008) Total Synthesis of (-) xanthatin. Tetrahedron Lett. 49(21): 3304–3306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hebrew University of JerusalemEfratIsrael

Personalised recommendations