Least Favorite Plant: Bidens

14856148_1192325424191374_6246555258212959974_oBeware the Bidens! Kelly and I were naive when it came to this common plant. It looked innocuous so we let a few grow. We’ve never seen it before in our yard and had to post a picture to Facebook’s only useful group, Plant Identification, in order to identify it.

Bidens is in the Asteraceae family which includes sunflowers, daisies and asters. There are many different varieties of Bidens and an equal number of popular names, according to Wikipedia: “beggarticks, black jack, burr marigolds, cobbler’s pegs, Spanish needles, stickseeds, tickseeds and tickseed sunflowers.”

Those popular names should give some clues as to the plant’s behavior. Brush up against it and this happens:


It turns out that nature has brilliantly designed these seeds to hitch a ride on mammals. Just touch or lightly brush up against the seed pods, which resemble mid-century chandeliers, and you’ll be picking out seeds for the next hour. Plants can’t move on their own so they’ve got to enlist helpers. In the case of Bidens, we’re the Uber.

Do you have Bidens in your garden?

Leave a comment


  1. Nooo I love Bidens! When I lived in Florida it was very common, mostly ‘alba’ or ‘pilosa’ but it is a huge nectar source for butterflies.

    Bidens is nothing compared to Caesar weed. It’s a bugger to pull out of your hair.

  2. I made a terrible mistake in allowing the pretty little yellow wildflower in the field grow. It took several years to figure out it was what we call “beggar lice.” I spent this year pulling out or mowing every plant I found. It made a big difference but I’m sure I have several years of this to go before the dogs are beggar lice free.

  3. A timely post! I just ordered and received bidens seed, because Im planting a dye garden and biden produces a lovely yellow. Not without a cost, I’ve just learned.

  4. Bidens is one of the few natives that bloom late in the fall here in the inland northwest, providing one last chance for honeybees to backfill empty comb.

  5. But… Bidens!!

    it plays a starring role in Stephen Harrod Buhners “Herbal Antibiotics” – fresh herb tincture used as a systemic antibacterial (particularly for mucous membranes).


    (disclaimer when I lived in Germany it was in our yard, but I didn’t know of its uses and I complained when the cats brushed against it and carried it around, causing it to come up everywhere. I don’t currently have it in my yard in CA – and might complain if it came up everywhere… but I might just make medicine and put it next to the currently soaking dandelion tincture… another one of those “hated noxious weeds” that’s a maligned part of our world…)

  6. Bidens been all over the country the last 8 years, no? Well the come Jan 2017 the country will be done with Bidens, he’s termed out and only Delaware will have him…

  7. In my yard (in South Texas) there is a nasty little plant that looks sort of like clover, with yellow flowers. After the flowers bloom, the plant produces stickers that get all over the dog, my socks, etc. I don’t know what the plant is called. The stickers are very sharp and painful.

  8. Pingback: Bidens rebuttal | Root Simple

  9. We have “beggar lice” here in the South. They are very labor intensive to remove. When my children got into them, they hated having to sit and pull them off their socks, shoes, pants, and shirts. Even the dog had them, but he bit them off outdoors.

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