Contributor: Pankaj Oudhia
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Chotagokhru or Kuthua, Xanthium strumarium L.
Xanthium strumarium L., Compositae, is a common weed found in India (Oudhia 2001; Oudhia and Dixit 1994). In different Indian languages Xanthium is known as banokra, chotadhatura, chotagokhru, kuthua (Hindi) godrian (Gujrati), aristha, itara, kambu-vanamalini, sarpakshi (Sanskrit), dumundi, dutundi (Marathi), maruloomatham (Tamil), maruluummatti (Kanarese), and marulam athangi (Telugu). The reason behind its common name chotagokhru is the shape of its fruit, which look likes the cow's toe (chota - small; go - cow; khuru - toe). In many parts of India, it is known as adhasisi (in English adhasisi means hemicrania; as this weed is used for the treatment of this common disease). In English, Xanthium is known as cocklebur or burweed. The genus Xanthium includes 25 species, all of American origin X. spinosum Linn and X. strumarium Linn are used medicinally in Europe, North America and Brazil; X. canadens Mill. is used in North America and Brazil and X. strumarium Linn in China, India and Malaya (Caius 1986). Two species of Xanthium, X. indicum and X. strumarium have been reported in India. The origin of X. strumarium is North America. It was introduced in India and spread like weed. It commonly grows in wasteplaces and along river banks in warmer parts.
X. strumarium is an annual herb with a short, stout, hairy stem. Leaves broadly triangular-ovate or suborbicular; flower heads in terminal and axillary racemes; white or green; numerous; male upper most; female ovoid, covered with hooked bristles; Fruit obovoid, enclosed in the hardened involucre, with 2 hooked beaks and hooked bristles. Flowering time in India is August-September. It can be propagated through seeds. This weed is easily dispersed through animals as the fruits have hooked bristles and 2 strong hooked beaks (Agharkar 1991).
The whole plant, specially root and fruit, is used as medicine. According to Ayurveda, X. strumarium is cooling, laxative, fattening, anthelmintic, alexiteric, tonic, digestive, antipyretic, and improves appetite, voice, complexion, and memory. It cures leucoderma, biliousness, poisonous bites of insects, epilepsy, salivation and fever. The plant of Xanthium yields xanthinin which acts as a plant growth regulator. Antibacterial activity of xanthinin has also been reported. Seed yields a semi-drying edible oil (30-35%) which resembles sunflower oil and used in bladder infection, herpes, and erysipelas. Cake can be used as manure whereas shell can be used as activated carbon (Oudhia and Tripathi 1998; Sastry and Kavathekar 1990). The plant has been reported as fatal to cattle and pigs.
Agharkar, S.P. 1991. Medicinal plants of Bombay presidency. Pbl. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur (India). p. 230.
Caius, J.F. 1986. Medicinal and poisonous plants of India. Pbl. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur (India). p. 375-376.
Oudhia, P. 2001. Phyto-sociological studies of rainy season wasteland weeds with special reference to Parthenium hysterophorus L. in Raipur (India) district. Asian J. Microbiol. Biotech. Environ. Sci. 3(1-2):89-92.
Oudhia, P. and A. Dixit. 1994. Weeds in Ambimkapur region (Madhya Pradesh) and their traditional use. Weed News 1(2):19-21.
Oudhia, P. and R.S. Tripathi. 1998. Possibilities of utilisation of medicinal weeds to increase the income of the farmers. In: Abstract. National Seminar on Medicinal Plant Resources Development, Gandhi Labour Institute, Ahmedabad (India), 4-5 Oct. 1998 p. 3.
Sastry, T.C.S. and Kavathekar, K. Y. (1990). Plants for reclamation of wastelands. Pbl. Publications and Information Directorate, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi (India) : 421-422.
Society for Parthenium Management, (SOPAM)
28-A, College Road, Geeta Nagar
Raipur- 492001 India
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