Bidens frondosa L.
Bidens frondosa L. var. anomala Porter ex Fernald
Bidens frondosa L. var. caudata Sherff
Bidens frondosa L. var. pallida Wiegand
Bidens frondosa L. var. stenodonta Fernald & H. St. John
Devil’s beggartick, devil’s-pitchfork, devil’s bootjack, sticktights, bur marigold, pitchfork weed, tickseed sunflower, leafy beggarticks, common beggar-ticks
These widespread North American native plants have all kinds of colorful common names that relate to the small fork-shaped seeds, which readily hitch rides on passers-by.
Plants: 12-36" (30-91 cm) high, rarely up to 6' (1.8 m). Stems are square in cross-section, nearly hairless, and light green, reddish green, or purple.
Flowers: Each composite flower is composed of 20-60 orange-yellow disc florets about ⅜-½" (9.5-12 mm) around, and rarely a few yellow rays, each ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-3.5 mm) long. They are encompassed in 6-10 phyllaries, like a rosette of small leaves. The flowers look sort of scraggly and unimpressive to me. Flowers occur in groups of one or up to 12, appearing from late summer to early fall.
Fruits: The seeds or achenes are shaped like a narrow triangle, with two barbed fork tips that attach to fur or clothes. The seeds are also distributed by the wind.
Edibility: Cooked young leaves and stems are edible.
Medical: Infusions made from this species are used to treat several urinary tract problems, as well as to reduce recurrences of gout by increasing excretion of uric acid.
These are similar:
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|Plant||Up to 13' (4 m) high, usually less than 3' (91 cm)||12-36" (30-91 cm) high, rarely up to 6' (1.8 m). Stems are square in cross-section, nearly hairless, and light green, reddish green, or purple||24-36" (60-91 cm) high, rarely up to 6' (1.8 m). Plants and flowers tend to look disheveled.|
|Flowers||Composite flowers are 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) across, have up to 8 petals, though rarely the ray flowers are missing and only the tubular disk flowers are present. The flowers are sideways-facing, rather than upward-facing||Each composite flower is composed of 20-60 orange-yellow disc florets about ⅜-½" (9.5-12 mm) around, and rarely a few yellow rays, each ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-3.5 mm) long. They are encompassed in 6-10 phyllaries, like a rosette of small leaves. Flowers occur in groups of 1-12, appearing from late summer to early fall.||Yellow flowers are 1½-2½" (3.8-6.3 cm) around, with 8 petals. Each is a composite flower. They bloom from July to October.|
|Leaves||Opposite, and sessile or clasping—leaf bases wrap around the stem. Leaves are 1½-8" (4-20 cm) long × up to 1" (2.5 cm) wide, and simple (unlobed)||Lower leaves are odd pinnate clusters on long petioles, in opposite pairs; upper leaves may be alternate. Leaves are up to 3" (7.6 cm) × 1" (2.5 cm), coarsely toothed, deltate or lanceolate.||1½-8" (3.8-20 cm) long, narrow, with coarse (dentate or serrate) teeth. They vary in shape from obovate or elliptic to lanceolate or linear|
|Fruit||Fruits are brown, hard, and triangular in shape, with four barbed spears of roughly equal length called awns||The seeds or achenes are shaped like a narrow triangle, with two barbed fork tips that attach to fur or clothes. The seeds are also distributed by the wind.||Seeds have barbed tips, which hitchhike on passers-by to find new locations.|
|Habitats||Near shorelines and the edges of wetlands, in sandy or mucky soil||Moist woods, meadows, thickets, fields, roadsides, railroads, borders of streams, ponds, sloughs, swamps, ditches||Saturated or flooded soils|
Bidens frondosa at Illinois Wildflowers
Bidens frondosa on CalPhotos
Bidens frondosa at Minnesota Wildflowers
Bidens frondosa on Wikipedia
Bidens frondosa on
Bidens frondosa on the University of Massachusetts Landscape, Nursery & Urban Forestry Program
Bidens frondosa on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Bidens frondosa on eFloras
Bidens frondosa description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 18 Sep 2020.