Bidens melanocarpa Wiegand
Common Name: Beggar Ticks
Bidens frondosa is an erect, annual plant usually growing 20 - 60cm tall, occasionally reaching 180cm[
The plant is highly rated for its medicinal uses, being harvested from the wild and also sometimes cultivated. The plant is also sometimes grown as an ornamental[
Bidens frondosa has been introduced widely in Europe and to other parts of the world, mainly in temperate climates. Most introductions have been intentional, due to the plant's medicinal, herbal and decorative properties, though seeds can also be accidentally dispersed into new areas as they can adhere firmly to animal fibres such as wool. The plant has often escaped from cultivation - in Europe it has been reported to outcompete and interbreed with native plant species in particular those of the same genus; whilst in New Zealand it is classified as an environmental weed[
N. America - Alaska to Newfoundland, south to California, Texas and Florida.
Damp ground in waste places in California[
]. Moist woods, meadows, thickets, fields, roadsides, railroads, borders of streams, ponds, sloughs, swamps, ditches; at elevations from 10 - 2,000 metres[
|Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Originally from N. America, Bidens frondosa has spread through cultivation and as a weed - it is reported to be naturalized in many parts of Europe, temperate Asia and New Zealand.
Succeeds in any moderately fertile moisture-retentive soil in full sun[
Young leaves and stems - cooked[
Infusions and tinctures of Bidens frondosa are rated as outstanding herbal therapies for the treatment of irritation, inflammation, pain, and bleeding of the urinary tract mucosa. They are also used in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy and increasing excretion of uric acid, decreasing the risk of gout attacks[
In addition to this the plant has been reported to treat palpitations of the heart, cough and uterine derangement[
The plant is also active against staphylococcus infections. Its astringency and anti-inflammatory effects on the mucus membranes help act as a tonic and preventative for gastritis and ulcers and diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. The tea will often help relieve hay fever and also sinus headaches aused by allergies, infections or pollution[
Roots or seeds are used as an expectorant in throat irritation. The tea or tincture acts to soothe the membranes, increase mucus secretions and expectoration and decrease edema and swelling[
]. The infusions have also cured several cases of croup and have been useful in relieving whooping-cough[
The plant is potentially a useful source of essential oil extracts with antibacterial and antioxidant properties[
Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in May.
Alternatively, a sowing in situ in mid to late spring can be tried.