Bidens vulgata (Big Devil's Beggarticks)

Plant Info
Also known as: Tall Beggarticks, Common Beggarticks
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; open woods, woodland edges, ditches, waste areas
Bloom season:August - October
Plant height:6 to 70 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACW NCNE: FAC
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct

[photo of flower]  1 to 3 stalked flower heads at the ends of branching stems. Flower heads are broad, up to 1 inch across, made up of tiny light yellow disk flowers with 4 or 5 lobes. 3 to several short yellow ray flowers (petals) irregularly spaced around the disk are usually present, but rays may be absent altogether. Inner bracts are inconspicuous yellow, triangular blades tucked around the perimeter of the center disk.

[photo of bracts] The head is surrounded by 10 to 20 leafy outer bracts that are up to 2 inches long, linear to narrowly spatula shaped, coarse textured and often rippling with dense stiff hairs, often curled or with rolled edges.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 3 or 5, oppositely attached, though a few simple leaves may be alternately attached near the flowers. Leaflets are 2 to 4 inches long, ½ to 1 inch wide, on a sturdy stalk, with the end leaflet largest. Leaflets are generally lance shaped, tapered to a blunt rounded tip, narrowing more abruptly at the base, with rounded teeth around the edges, densely hairy along the edges and undersides. Stems are stout and erect, many branched, green to reddish, often smooth at the base becoming densely hairy above.

Fruit: Fruit type: barbed Fruit type: seed without plume

Fruit is a flat, olive green to brown seed ¼ to 1/3 inch long with a mostly smooth surface and 2 barbed awns that are erect or somewhat spreading.


There are several species of Bidens with similar flowers, but they are not so difficult to tell apart once you know the secret. Devil's Beggarticks (Bidens frondosa) also has leaves compound in 3s or 5s, but only 4 to 9 leafy bracts, a smaller flower head, and rarely grows taller than 30 inches. Three-lobed Beggarticks (Bidens tripartita) also has a broad yellow flower head, but has mostly simple leaves, not compound, and broader leafy bracts that are less hairy. Purple-stem Beggarticks (Bidens connata) also has mostly simple leaves, a smaller flower head that is more orange than yellow, few leafy bracts, and 4-angled seeds that usually have 2 to 4 awns.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in a roadside ditch in Weaver, MN, Wabasha County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Eric S - Woodbury - Washington County
on: 2017-08-16 19:24:44

Big Devil's Beggartick has shown up in my native prairie garden, and I've been advised to get rid of it. However, most of the other plants in the garden are also tall (lots of aster family plants), up to and including a few 10' compass plants that just arrived this year, so, although the Beggartick is not the most beautiful plant, it's not really out of place, since it's native. Should I keep it just for variety, or is it too aggressive?

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2017-08-16 19:43:51

I'm not familiar enough with it to comment on any aggressive tendencies it may/not have, so you could just wait and see how it behaves in your garden.

Posted by: Cristy Thiessen - Langton
on: 2020-08-11 12:20:39

It's an annual so if you want to cut some back before it goes to seed, it wouldn't spread as much

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