Encyclopedia Article

Buffalobur                    Solanum rostratum L.

Family:  Solanaceae (Nightshade family)
Life cycle:  Annual
Habitat:  Overgrazed pastures, crop fields, waste areas
Native status:  Native to great plains of North America

General description:  Erect with ascending branches, reaching heights of 2-3 ft.  Stems densely covered with 1/3” long yellow spines.  Leaves with deep, rounded lobes; spines developing on upper and lower leaf veins.  Flowers with 5 fused, bright yellow petals. 

Key ID traits:  Deeply lobed, ‘wrinkled’ leaves with spines developing on veins.  Yellow flowers.

Miscellaneous:  Common name alludes to the plant’s presence around bison wallows where the native vegetation had been eliminated.  Buffalobur was the host plant to the Colorado potato beetle before introduction of potato to North America.

abundant spines on leaves and stems
Abundant spines on leaves and stems

fused, yellow petals of buffalobur
Fused, yellow petals of buffalobur

pinnately lobed leaves of buffalobur
Pinnately lobed leaves of buffalobur

Long, stiff spines on buffalobur stem and petioles.

Buffalobur in a heavily overgrazed pasture. The plants thorns only provided partial protection from sheep grazine.

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