By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
What are beggarticks? Beggartick weeds are stubborn plants that create havoc across much of the United States. You may know this plant as bearded beggartick, tickseed sunflower, or swamp marigold, and you may be wondering how to get rid of beggartick weeds. If this sounds like you, read on for helpful information.
What are beggarticks? Common beggartick plants are members of the aster family, and the bright yellow flowers resemble daisies. The slender, leafy stems can reach heights of 1 to 5 feet (31 cm. to 1.5 m.). The dull green leaves are sharply toothed along the edges.
If you have common beggartick plants in your lawn or garden, you already know how troublesome they can be. You know how the stickery, fishhook-like seeds grab hold of whatever they touch, and you’ve probably spent hours picking the pesky things out of your socks or your dog’s coat. This handy little adaptation ensures that the plant spreads quickly when the sticky seeds catch a ride on an unsuspecting host.
What you may not realize is that common beggartick plants, which are found around ponds and marshes, along roadsides and in damp ditches, pose serious threats to the environment when they crowd out native plants.
Control of beggarticks requires dedication and persistence. Frequent mowing is the best way to prevent the plant from going to seed and stop the rampant spread. The plant is easy to pull from moist soil, but be sure to dispose of the plants securely, especially if the plant is in flower. If beggartick is in your lawn, keeping the turf healthy will prevent the plant from taking over.
If the plant is out of control, you can use an herbicide. Use the product strictly according to label recommendations, and keep in mind that many herbicides kill every plant they touch. It’s also important to note that many states regulate application of herbicides in aquatic areas.
Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are safer and much more environmentally friendly.
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Bidens is a genus of flowering plants in the aster family, Asteraceae. The common names beggarticks, black jack, burr marigolds, cobbler's pegs, Spanish needles, stickseeds, tickseeds and tickseed sunflowers refer to the fruits of the plants, most of which are bristly and barbed, with two sharp pappi at the end. The generic name refers to the same character Bidens comes from the Latin bis ("two") and dens ("tooth"). 
Growing virtually all types of bidens is relatively easy. These plants have abundant greenery growth and produce many blooms—as long as they have rich soil and sufficient drainage. They tolerate drought and heat relatively well and require part to full sun.
You won’t need to deadhead the plant for it to continue blooming during its long flowering season of May to October. In the winter, the plant will die off if temperatures fall below freezing. Otherwise, it will retain its greenery through the winter months and rejuvenate in the spring.
Popular in both gardens and in containers, bidens are considered an excellent choice as a spiller plant.
|Also known as:||Leafy Beggarticks, Devil's Pitchfork|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun along shores, wet ditches, wet fields, disturbed soil|
|Bloom season:||July - October|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
Usually single, sometimes 2 or 3 stalked flower heads at the end of branching stems. Flowers are petal-less, have a yellow-orange center disk about ½ long to ¾ inch wide made up of tiny 5-lobed disk flowers. Inner bracts surrounding the disk are all equal in size, generally egg-shaped, brownish green to yellow.
Sparsely set about the flower head are 5 to 12 green, conspicuously long, narrowly spatula-shaped leafy outer bracts of unequal sizes, conspicuously hairy around the edges. Flower stalks are slender and up to 6 inches long.
Leaves are compound in groups of 3 or 5. Leaflets are 2 to 4 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, on a slender stalk with the terminal leaflet predominant. Leaflets are lance shaped, tapered sharply at the tip and narrowing more abruptly at the base, sharply toothed around the edges, undersides with short soft hairs. Stems are erect and branched, mostly smooth and may have a purplish color.
Seed heads are round, larger than flower disks, covered in flat, dark brown seeds.
Seeds are ¼ to 1/3 inch long with 2 barbed awns at the top that catch fur or fabric to disburse seeds.
There are several species of Bidens with similar flowers, but they are not so difficult to tell apart once you know the secret. Purple-stem Beggarticks (Bidens connata) has the most similar flowers, but usually simple leaves, occasionally lobed, and seeds with usually 2 to 4 awns. Three-lobed Beggarticks (Bidens tripartita) also has leaves that are mostly simple, seeds all with 3 awns, and larger, more numerous leafy bracts. Big Devil's Beggarticks (Bidens vulgata) is a larger plant (up to 6 feet) that has more numerous bracts that are much more densely and coarsely hairy. Of the native beggars-ticks that display few if any ray flowers, B. frondosa is the most widespread and common.
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park, Anoka County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?
FYI: A friend who dyes using various plants used the flower and small leaves below the flower which resulted in a beautiful deep golden yellow. So many what we feel are pesky weeds are actually beautiful dye plants.
This is growing like a weed on my acre property this season. ItвЂ™s refreshing to see a native plant growing so aggressively. I wish it were a perennial.
Kztrin, it readily reseeds itself so it might as well be perennial.
I have a lot of this growing in my back yard Trying to look up herbal uses
Trying to id a perennial (?) plant with fern-like leaves, a large thick persistent tap root and white (?) flowers that produce a black, harp, commma-shaped seed. My dog spread it EVERYWHERE. Gets them in her eyes. They hurt! Thanks Jana
Jana, beggarticks have yellow flowers and the leaves aren't very fern-like so that is not what you're seeing. Try posting a few photos on the Minnesota Wildflowers Facebook page.
Found a handful of these blooming along the Middle Fork of the Zumbro River in Oronoco Township, Olmsted County.
Mine in backyard St. Paul is over 6 feet, very impressive and yes invasive, I pulled hundreds which seemed to come from nowhere. Tiny yellow flowers on one I kept for specimen.
It took me a month before I could ID this plant. We found in it at the high water mark on the Mississipi as a seedling growing in a small pile of sticks and other detritus that gets left behind bank as the water recedes. I've been growing it in a pot on my back deck and had to wait until it flowered to ID it. I kept thinking it was a native shrub until I saw the flowers. I'm so glad I discovered what I had and didn't plant it in my garden. I can keep it and it'll be easy to snip off the flowers before they go to seed. There's some great info on the medicinal uses of this plant at http://temperate.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Bidens+frondosa
Common Beggar's-tick is a plant often known as (Hairy Beggar's-tick). It goes by the scientific name Bidens Alba. Beggar's tick belongs to the Compositae (Asteraceae) which is a family of Sunflowers. Bidens in Latin signifies double pronged and refers to two projections that usually appear at top of the seed. Alba in Latin denotes white, which refers to the flowers. Just like a tick, the seeds of beggar's tick hook themselves on to people, animals or insects and spread themselves in the wild.
Common Beggar's-tick is an annual or short-term perennial with tapered roots that often start at the shallow nodes. When the plant grows, it may either grow erect or bend at the base. The opposing leaves are complex, measuring 1-3 inches in length and about 1-2 inches in width. The leaf edges are serrated and the bottom of the leaf has fine hairs. The flowers appear like a daisy or a sunflower. The flowers on the outside appear like white petals. Flowers that form in the shallow center are quite small and yellowish in color. The seeds are more rectangular, with sharp projections on the top.
Beggar's tick is often confused with a dahlia plant, but the former is slight taller and has dark red stems. The leaves on the beggar's tick may vary from 3-5 and have a serrated appearance along the edges. Almost invariably, the leaves in the beggar's tick arise in pairs. Beggar's tick has a short flowering season and plants do die out during the cold winter months. In the wild, Beggar's tick may be seen growing along waterways, wet land, dense forest and in areas of moist humid soil.
Beggar's tick can be grown on a landscape but in the wild, its growth can be significant and hence it is often referred to as a weed. Beggar's tick is often seen growing wild in the southern states especially Florida. The weeds tends to grow anywhere in the subtropics or tropics, where the temperatures are warm and there is ample water.
When flowers mature, the seeds easily disperse with aid of the thorny projections that cling on to grazing animals or large insects. Once the seeds fall on the ground, they germinate relatively easily. However, germination can be facilitated by slicing one end of the seed. On average, each beggar's tick plant produces over a thousand seeds and this explains the wild growth.
While beggar's itch does produce nice flowers, one does need to control its growth. If growth is not controlled, then this charming plant can turn into a weed. Most herbicides can easily control growth of the plant. Since the plant is a prolific producer of hundreds of seeds from May to September, it is important to use the herbicide during these times. The herbicide selected should be safe for other plants and not remain in the soil for prolonged periods. Experts recommend use of Aminopyralid, 2-4-D or triclopye to kill the excess weed. These herbicides provide weed control about 3-4 months after initial application.
If there has been excess growth, the entire plant needs to be removed from soil. Removal is easy but one should try and limit seed dispersal during removal. Some gardeners will cover the plant with a plastic bag before proceeding to removal from soil. Anytime weed control is undertaken, follow up is required to ensure that the plant is not regrowing.
|Plant Habit:||Herb/Forb |
|Life cycle:||Annual |
|Sun Requirements:||Full Sun |
Full Sun to Partial Shade
|Water Preferences:||Wet |
|Soil pH Preferences:||Strongly acid (5.1 – 5.5) |
Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
|Plant Height :||2 to 3 feet|
|Fruit:||Edible to birds |
|Flower Color:||Yellow |
|Bloom Size:||Under 1" |
|Flower Time:||Summer |
Late summer or early fall
|Suitable Locations:||Bog gardening |
|Uses:||Cut Flower |
|Wildlife Attractant:||Bees |
|Resistances:||Flood Resistant |
|Propagation: Seeds:||Depth to plant seed: Sow just below the soil surface. |
|Pollinators:||Various insects |
|Conservation status:||Least Concern (LC) |
This species is common along ponds and watercourses here in southeast Pennsylvania. It has a large native range in North America of southern Canada and almost all of the lower 48 states, except for Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. Like other members of the Aster Family, Asteraceae, (or the old Composite Family of Compositae), it has central fertile disc flowers that make up the 'nose" and ray flowers that look like petals. With this species there is a range of variety and ecotypes where the ray flowers can be totally absent to various lengths of short ray flowers to ray flowers about 1.5 to 2 inches long. There is an extremely similar species of the Smooth Beggar-Tick (Bidens laevis) that always has ray flowers that are about 2 inches long or longer. My old book of "A Field Guide To Wildflowers by Peterson & McKenny from 1968 comments that the two species intergrade into each other. I would say it is one species with three varieties of no ray flowers, short ray flowers, and longer ray flowers. The seed of this plant do cling to fur, feathers, and clothing if brushed against. Some native plant nurseries of conservation districts and other habitat enhancement companies sell the seeds and sometimes even small plants.
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Bidens alba – Resembling a daisy, this bidens plant variety features white petals and a bright yellow center. It’s also sometimes referred to as beggarticks or Spanish needles.
Bidens 'Campfire Burst' – This variety of bidens is hard to miss, thanks to the brightly hued flowers crowning each plant. The tri-colored petals are shaded inward from a deep red to a blazing orange and a zippy yellow. They flower abundantly from the summer into the fall and are a great colorful addition to any landscape design.
Bidens ferulifolia 'Golden Nugget' – With yellow petals that resemble a star and an orange center, the Golden Nugget variety is one of the most eye-catching bidens plants. It’s a native of Mexico and is also called the Apache beggartick or fern-leaved beggartick, courtesy of its fine, soft foliage.yujie chen / Getty Images
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