Bidens pilosa is part of the Asteraceae family of plants. It originated in South America but has been naturalized in many parts of the world. It is herbaceous annual. They also call it Black-Jack, Spanish Needle, Beggarticks, Farmer’s Friend, Devil’s Needles, Broom Stick, Pitchforks, or Cobbler’s Pegs. In Chinese, they call it Xian Feng Can.
Carl Linnaeus first described it in 1753. It has branched stems and can grow to 1.8m or 6ft tall. The foliage is opposite and ranges from simple to pinnate. Bidens pilosa can flower any time of the year. The usual flowering season is spring and summer. The flowers are white with a yellow center. Usually, the yellow disc florets are surrounded by white florets. Later the flowers turn into barbed fruits.
They use all parts of this plant in traditional medicine to treat over forty disorders. The treatments range from snake bites to inflammation and immunological or digestive disorders. They also consume it as food in many parts of the world. In Eastern Africa, it is used in stews. The roots and the leaves are phototoxic. And consumption of the leaves in Africa has been found to cause cancer.
How to grow Bidens pilosa:
Grow Bidens pilosa in the sun. It is a fat growing plant. Plant it in fertile moderately moist but well-drained soil. Bidens pilosa can tolerate drought. This plant grows three times faster than most plants. Propagate by seed.