Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks)

Plant Info
Also known as: Leafy Beggarticks, Devil's Pitchfork
Genus:Bidens
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; along shores, wet ditches, wet fields, disturbed soil
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct

[photo of flower] 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.

[photo of bracts] 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 and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] 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.

Fruit:

[photo of fruit] Seed heads are round, larger than flower disks, covered in flat, dark brown seeds.

[photo of seed] Seeds are ¼ to 1/3 inch long with 2 barbed awns at the top that catch fur or fabric to disburse seeds.

Notes:

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.

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More photos

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.

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