Bidens pilosa is an annual species of herbaceous flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae. Its many common names include hitch hikers, black-jack, beggarticks, farmer's friends and Spanish needle, but most commonly referred to as cobblers pegs. It is native to the Americas but is widely distributed as an introduced species in other regions including Eurasia, Africa, Australia, South America and the Pacific Islands,[2] and is classified as an invasive species in some regions of the world.[3][4] In Chishona, it is called tsine.

Bidens pilosa
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Bidens
B. pilosa
Binomial name
Bidens pilosa
L. 1753
  • Bidens abadiae DC.
  • Bidens adhaerescens Vell.
  • Bidens africana Klatt
  • Bidens alausensis Kunth
  • Bidens alba (L.) DC.
  • Bidens arenaria Gand.
  • Bidens arenicola Gand.
  • Bidens aurantiaca Colenso
  • Bidens barrancae M.E.Jones
  • Bidens bimucronata Turcz.
  • Bidens bonplandii Sch.Bip.
  • Bidens brachycarpa DC.
  • Bidens calcicola Greenm.
  • Bidens californica DC.
  • Bidens cannabina Lam.
  • Bidens caracasana DC.
  • Bidens caucalidea DC.
  • Bidens chilensis DC.
  • Bidens ciliata Hoffmanns. ex Fisch. & C.A.Mey.
  • Bidens daucifolia DC.
  • Bidens deamii Sherff
  • Bidens decussata Pav. ex DC.
  • Bidens decussata Pav. ex Steud.
  • Bidens dichotoma Desf. ex DC.
  • Bidens exaristata DC.
  • Bidens hirsuta Nutt. 1841 not Sw. 1788
  • Bidens hirta Jord.
  • Bidens hispida Kunth
  • Bidens hybrida Thuill.
  • Bidens inermis S.Watson
  • Bidens leucantha (L.) Willd.
  • Bidens leucantha Poepp. ex DC.
  • Bidens leucanthemus (L.) E.H.L.Krause
  • Bidens minor (Wimm. & Grab.) Vorosch.
  • Bidens minuscula H.Lév. & Vaniot
  • Bidens montaubani Phil.
  • Bidens odorata Cav.
  • Bidens orendainae M.E.Jones
  • Bidens orientalis Velen. ex Bornm.
  • Bidens paleacea Vis.
  • Bidens pinnata Noronha
  • Bidens pumila (Retz.) Steud.
  • Bidens ramosissima Sherff
  • Bidens reflexa Link
  • Bidens rosea Sch.Bip.
  • Bidens scandicina Kunth
  • Bidens striata Schott ex Sweet
  • Bidens sundaica Blume
  • Bidens taquetii H.Lév. & Vaniot
  • Bidens trifoliata Norona
  • Bidens valparadisiaca Colla
  • Bidens viciosoi Pau
  • Ceratocephalus pilosus Rich. ex Cass.
  • Coreopsis alba L.
  • Coreopsis corymbifolia Buch.-Ham. ex DC.
  • Coreopsis leucantha L.
  • Coreopsis leucorrhiza Lour.
  • Coreopsis multifida DC.
  • Coreopsis odorata Poir.
  • Coreopsis odorata Lam.
  • Glossogyne chinensis Less.
  • Kerneria dubia Cass.
  • Kerneria pilosa (L.) Lowe
  • Kerneria tetragona Moench
Immature fruiting head
Barbs on awn of Bidens pilosa



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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7][8] 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.[4][5][9]



The species is native to tropical America, widely naturalized throughout the warm temperate and tropical regions of the world.[10][11] A weed of gardens, woodlands and waste areas.[12][13][14]

Common names


Its many English common names include black-jack,[15]: 819  beggarticks, hairy beggarticks, cobbler's pegs, devil's needles, hairy bidens, Spanish needle, farmers friend, Devils Pitchfork, hitch hikers and sticky beaks.[16][17][18]



Although Bidens pilosa is primarily considered a weed, in many parts of the world it is also a source of food and alternative medicine.[19] The leaves have a resinous flavor, are eaten raw or in stews or dried for storage. It is especially important in eastern Africa, where it is known as michicha.[20]

During the Vietnam War, soldiers[which?] adopted the herb as a vegetable, which led to it being known as the "soldier vegetable".[21] It is susceptible to hand weeding if small enough; even then it must be bagged, and thick mulches may prevent it from growing.[22][23]

Extracts from Bidens pilosa are used in Southern Africa for malaria.[23]



Almost 200 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]


  1. ^ The Plant List, Bidens pilosa L.
  2. ^ Bidens pilosa. Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER). USFS.
  3. ^ "Spanish Needle (Bidens pilosa) - Encyclopedia of Biodiversity (Second Edition)". ScienceDirect. 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Cobbler's pegs". Weed Identification – Brisbane City Council. Retrieved 2024-03-16.
  5. ^ a b Flora of North America, Bidens pilosa Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 832. 1753.
  6. ^ "Spanish needles: definition of Spanish needles in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US)". Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  7. ^ "Plant Discoveries Sherwin Carlquist Island Biology LOSS of DISPERSIBILITY on ISLANDS". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  8. ^ "beggarticks: definition of beggarticks in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US)". Archived from the original on December 9, 2015. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  9. ^ Multimedia, Acura. "*Bidens pilosa — Noosa's Native Plants". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  10. ^ "Bidens pilosa (Blackjack)". BioNET EAFRINET Keys and Factsheets. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  11. ^ "Factsheet - Bidens pilosa". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  12. ^ "Bidens pilosa - Cobbler's Pegs - Edible Weeds and Bush Tucker Plant Foods". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  13. ^ "Dangars Falls and Salisbury Waters". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  14. ^ "Elizabeth and Rob". Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ BSBI List 2007 (xls). Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-06-26. Retrieved 2014-10-17.
  17. ^ "Wilderness Survival, Tracking, and Awareness".
  18. ^ Atlas of Living Australia, Bidens pilosa L., Cobbler's Peg
  19. ^ Grubben, G. J. H. & O. A. Denton. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
  20. ^ Pieroni, Andrea (2005). Prance, Ghillean; Nesbitt, Mark (eds.). The Cultural History of Plants. Routledge. p. 31. ISBN 0415927463.
  21. ^ Tanaka, Yoshitaka; Van Ke, Nguyen (2007). Edible Wild Plants of Vietnam: The Bountiful Garden. Thailand: Orchid Press. p. 38. ISBN 978-9745240896.
  22. ^ "Sustainable Horse Keeping". Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  23. ^ a b Grubben, G. J. H.; Denton, O. A., eds. (2004). Vegetables. Wageningen, Netherlands: Backhuys. p. 115. ISBN 90-5782-147-8. OCLC 57724930.
  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