Bidens frondosa (Devil's Beggarticks)

Plant Info
Also known as: Leafy Beggarticks, Devil's Pitchfork
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; along shores, wet ditches, wet fields, disturbed soil
Bloom season:July - October
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW
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: Fruit type: barbed Fruit type: seed without plume

[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.


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.


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

Posted by: Jean H - KITCHENER, Ontario Canada
on: 2017-09-16 08:55:27

FYI: A friend who dyes using various plants used the flower and small leaves below the flower which resulted in a beautiful deep golden yellow. So many what we feel are pesky weeds are actually beautiful dye plants.

Posted by: Kztrin - Highwood Hills, St. Paul
on: 2019-09-16 11:01:49

This is growing like a weed on my acre property this season. It's refreshing to see a native plant growing so aggressively. I wish it were a perennial.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2019-09-16 16:55:35

Kztrin, it readily reseeds itself so it might as well be perennial.

Posted by: Michael Heilman - Urban St.Paul near Lake Phelan actually in my backyard
on: 2020-04-11 08:11:12

I have a lot of this growing in my back yard Trying to look up herbal uses

Posted by: Jana - Brainerd
on: 2020-05-28 18:58:37

Trying to id a perennial (?) plant with fern-like leaves, a large thick persistent tap root and white (?) flowers that produce a black, harp, commma-shaped seed. My dog spread it EVERYWHERE. Gets them in her eyes. They hurt! Thanks Jana

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-05-29 04:20:00

Jana, beggarticks have yellow flowers and the leaves aren't very fern-like so that is not what you're seeing. Try posting a few photos on the Minnesota Wildflowers Facebook page.

Posted by: Angela Smith - Oronoco Township
on: 2020-08-26 19:47:46

Found a handful of these blooming along the Middle Fork of the Zumbro River in Oronoco Township, Olmsted County.

Posted by: anonymous
on: 2020-09-01 13:39:27

Mine in backyard St. Paul is over 6 feet, very impressive and yes invasive, I pulled hundreds which seemed to come from nowhere. Tiny yellow flowers on one I kept for specimen.

Posted by: Diane Brewster - Minneapolis
on: 2020-09-07 09:24:27

It took me a month before I could ID this plant. We found in it at the high water mark on the Mississipi as a seedling; growing in a small pile of sticks and other detritus that gets left behind bank as the water recedes. I've been growing it in a pot on my back deck and had to wait until it flowered to ID it. I kept thinking it was a native shrub until I saw the flowers. I'm so glad I discovered what I had and didn't plant it in my garden. I can keep it and it'll be easy to snip off the flowers before they go to seed. There's some great info on the medicinal uses of this plant at

Posted by: Lori
on: 2023-08-22 11:08:12

Hi it is allng my shoreline. And a huge 6ft one in my glower bed ? Shoukd i leave or remove this ???? Eagle River wisconsin

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-08-22 16:30:47

Lori, your shoreline is it's natural habitat so I'd leave it be there, but personally I would remove any volunteers in a garden.

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