Bidens pilosa

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Bidens pilosa
Bidens pilosa-Silent Valley-2016-08-13-001.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Bidens
B. pilosa
Binomial name
Bidens pilosa
L. 1753
Immature fruiting head

Bidens pilosa is an annual species of herbaceous flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae. Its many common names include black-jack, beggarticks, cobbler's pegs and Spanish needle. It is native to the Americas but is widely distributed as an introduced species in other regions worldwide including Eurasia, Africa, Australia, South America and the Pacific Islands.[2]


Bidens pilosa is a branched annual forb of gracile habit, growing up to 1.8 meters tall. It grows aggressively on disturbed land and often becomes weedy. The leaves are all oppositely arranged and range from simple to pinnate in form, the upper leaves with three to five dentate, ovate-to-lanceolate leaflets. The petioles are slightly winged.[3]

The plant may flower at any time of the year, but mainly in summer and autumn in temperate regions. The flowers are small heads borne on relatively long peduncles. The heads consist of about four or five broad white ray florets (ligules), surrounding many tubular yellow disc florets without ligules that develop into barbed fruits.[4]

The fruits are slightly curved, stiff, rough black rods, tetragonal in cross section, about 1 cm long, typically with two to three stiff, heavily barbed awns at their distal ends. The infructescences form stellate spherical burrs about one to two centimeters in diameter. The barbed spines of the achenes get stuck in the feathers, fur, fleeces, clothing, etc. of people or animals that brush against the plant.[5][6] It is an effective means of seed dispersal by zoochory, as the fruits are transported by animals. This mechanism has helped the plant become a noxious weed in temperate and tropical regions.[3][7] The barbed awns can injure flesh.[citation needed]


The species is native to tropical America, widely naturalized throughout the warm temperate and tropical regions of the world.[8][9] A weed of gardens, woodlands, and waste areas.[10][11][12]

Common names[edit]

Its many English common names include black-jack,[13]:819 beggarticks, hairy beggarticks, cobbler's pegs, devil's needles, hairy bidens, Spanish needle, farmers friend, Devils Pitchfork, and sticky beaks.[14][15][2][16][17]


Although Bidens pilosa is primarily considered a weed, in many parts of the world it is also a source of food and medicine.[18] The leafs have a resinous flavor, and are eaten raw, in stews, or dried for storage. It is especially important in eastern Africa, where it is known as michicha.[19]

In Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, soldiers adopted the herb as a vegetable, which led to it being known as the "soldier vegetable".[20] It is susceptible to hand weeding if small enough, even then must be bagged, and thick mulches may prevent it from growing.[21][22]

In traditional Chinese medicine, this plant is considered a medicinal herb, called xian feng cao (Chinese: 咸豐草).[citation needed]. In traditional Bafumbira medicine, this plant is applied on a fresh wound and is known to be a medicinal herb, called inyabalasanya.[citation needed]Extracts from Bidens Pilosa is used in Southern Africa to cure malaria.[23]


Almost two hundred compounds have been isolated from B. pilosa, especially polyacetylenes and flavonoids.[24] The plant contains the chalcone okanin[25] and ethyl caffeate, a hydroxycinnamic acid.[26]

Extracts of B. pilosa suppressed the growth of isolated adult T-cell leukemia cells in vitro.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Bidens pilosa L.
  2. ^ a b Bidens pilosa. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). USFS.
  3. ^ a b Flora of North America, Bidens pilosa Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 832. 1753.
  4. ^ "Spanish needles: definition of Spanish needles in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US)". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  5. ^ "Plant Discoveries Sherwin Carlquist Island Biology LOSS of DISPERSIBILITY on ISLANDS". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  6. ^ "beggarticks: definition of beggarticks in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US)". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  7. ^ Multimedia, Acura. "*Bidens pilosa — Noosa's Native Plants". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  8. ^ "Bidens pilosa (Blackjack)". BioNET EAFRINET Keys and Factsheets. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  9. ^ "Factsheet - Bidens pilosa". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  10. ^ "Bidens pilosa - Cobbler's Pegs - Edible Weeds and Bush Tucker Plant Foods". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  11. ^ "Dangars Falls and Salisbury Waters". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  12. ^ "Elizabeth and Rob". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  13. ^ Stace, C. A. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles (Fourth ed.). Middlewood Green, Suffolk, U.K.: C & M Floristics. ISBN 978-1-5272-2630-2.
  14. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  15. ^ "Wilderness Survival, Tracking, and Awareness".
  16. ^ "Bidens pilosa in Flora of North America @". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  17. ^ Atlas of Living Australia, Bidens pilosa L., Cobbler's Peg
  18. ^ Grubben, G. J. H. & O. A. Denton. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
  19. ^ Pieroni, Andrea (2005). Prance, Ghillean; Nesbitt, Mark (eds.). The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge. p. 31. ISBN 0415927463.
  20. ^ Tanaka, Yoshitaka; Van Ke, Nguyen (2007). Edible Wild Plants of Vietnam: The Bountiful Garden. Thailand: Orchid Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-9745240896.
  21. ^ "Sustainable Horse Keeping". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  22. ^ Vegetables. Grubben, G. J. H., Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (Program). Wageningen, Netherlands: Backhuys. 2004. ISBN 90-5782-147-8. OCLC 57724930.CS1 maint: others (link)
  23. ^ Vegetables. Grubben, G. J. H., Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (Program). Wageningen, Netherlands: Backhuys. 2004. p. 115. ISBN 90-5782-147-8. OCLC 57724930.CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ Silva, F. L., et al. (2011). Compilation of secondary metabolites from Bidens pilosa. Molecules 16(2), 1070-1102.
  25. ^ Presence of Compounds in Picao preto (Bidens pilosa). Raintree Nutrition.
  26. ^ Chiang, Y., et al. (2005). Ethyl caffeate suppresses NF-κB activation and its downstream inflammatory mediators, iNOS, COX-2, and PGE2 in vitro or in mouse skin. Br J Pharmacol. 146(3) 352–63. PMID 16041399
  27. ^ Nakama, S., et al. (2011). .Anti-adult T-cell leukemia effects of Bidens pilosa. International Journal of Oncology 38(4), 1163-73. PMID 21318218

External links[edit]