Tall leafy native American annual that likes full sun and semi wet areas, not waterlogged but can tolerate intermittent flooding. Grows up to 4 feet (1.2m) and can spread about 3 feet (1m) across. Ideal for covering ground in moist areas. Very easy to grow and takes no care once established. Can just be cut down at year end or early spring. The flowers are nothing much but a large number of moth species and other insects use it as a food source so its an ideal plant to add to any native plant garden. Its also a useful medicinal plant that can be harvested when the leaves are full. Roots can also be used, but take care to harvest before the seed are mature. Each has two sharp 'horns' on one end which is what gives this plant its name.
Description of Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks).
Native American annual growing from 1-4 feet (31-121 cm) in height on strong ridged but smooth stems that branch in the upper half plant. Leaves are arranged opposite and divided into 3 to 5 leaflets that are lanceolate shape with strongly toothed margins and deep central vein causing leaves to fold slightly in the center. Upper stems are often covered in short green hairs. Each branch terminates in a flower head with a single bloom. Flowers are surrounded by a circle of large spoon shaped bracts often 2-3 times the length of the flower head. Each flower head consists of 20 - 60 tiny golden tubular corollas with five pointed tips. Sometimes surrounding this are a few small oval shaped bright yellow petals, however not all flowers have these making the flowers fairly unobtrusive.
The seeds that follow the flowers however are anything but. They are brown, flat basically oblong with two large sharp barbs at one end. These are what give the plant the name devils beggarticks as they will catch in animal fur, or on your clothing and are very sharp. Seeds themselves look rather like little horned bugs.
Growing Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks) from Seed.
Very easy. Can either be started inside in late winter for early production or direct sown outside when danger of frost is past. Direct sowing.
As early as possible. Can even prepare the bed removing all weeds before frost has gone. Then sow seeds about 6-10 inches (15-25cm) apart, keep moist until grow at least two feet.
Sowing inside in small pots of 1-2 seeds then transplant out when danger of frost is gone. For more information on growing seeds see our General Growing Instructions
Location and Care of Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks)
Full sun is best but can take some light shade. Likes a good fertile soil so add organic material before planting. Prefers soil to be slightly moist at all times so using a soaker hose or planting through mulch to keep soil moisture in place is ideal and also keeps of the weeds. Can tolerate relatively damp soils but not fully waterlogged soils for long periods may tolerate several days of flooding.
Ideal for sides of rain gardens and moist areas which may flood during storms and stream overflows.
Pollinator and Wildlife with Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks)
It may not look like a wonderful plant to you but our insects, especially butterflies and moths love it. Many species of moth use Bidens frondosa
as a food plant including Epiblema otiosana
(Bidens Borer Moth), Platysenta mobilis
(Mobile Groundling), Condica confederata
(The Confederate), Cirrophanus triangulifer
(Goldenrod Stowaway), and Palthis asopialis
(Faint-Spotted Palthis), as well as many other insects. Birds really like the seeds.
Harvesting Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks)
Harvest leaves just as flowers are coming into bloom. Cut down the whole stalk leaving about 1/3 at the base to regenerate. If harvested early enough may obtain a second harvest from the same plants.
Medical uses of Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks)
most commonly made into tinctures of infusions to treat irritation, inflammation, pain, and bleeding of the urinary tract mucosa. It can also help kidneys excrete uric acid thus decreasing the risk of gout attacks. Some sources report its useful for uterine derangement and staphylococcus infections. The anti inflammatory effects may work as a tonic to sooth and prevent ulcers, gastritis and ulcerative colitis. The same properties used as a tea may help relieve some forms of hay fever, sinus headaches and allergies.
The roots and/or seeds can be used to make an expectorant tincture to help sooth membranes and increase mucus secretions and decrease swelling.
common beggar-ticks, bur marigold, common beggarticks, devils beggar-ticks, devil's bootjack, devil's-pitchfork, leafy beggarticks, pitchfork weed, Sticktight,