Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Bidens frondosa



Bidens frondosa (beggarticks)


  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Bidens frondosa
  • Preferred Common Name
  • beggarticks
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • B. frondosa is a herbaceous annual native to North America. It has been introduced widely in Europe and to other parts of the world and is mostly found in temperate climates. The majority of introductions into...

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Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); young vegetative plant.
TitleYoung vegetative plant
CaptionBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); young vegetative plant.
Copyright©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); young vegetative plant.
Young vegetative plantBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); young vegetative plant.©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); older vegetative plant.
TitleVegetative plant
CaptionBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); older vegetative plant.
Copyright©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); older vegetative plant.
Vegetative plantBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); older vegetative plant.©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); flower head.
TitleBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); flower head.
CaptionBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); flower head.
Copyright©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); flower head.
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); flower head.Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); flower head.©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); head of fruit (seeds).
TitleHead of fruit (seeds)
CaptionBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); head of fruit (seeds).
Copyright©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); head of fruit (seeds).
Head of fruit (seeds)Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); head of fruit (seeds).©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); close-up of head of fruit (seeds).
TitleHead of fruit (seeds)
CaptionBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); close-up of head of fruit (seeds).
Copyright©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); close-up of head of fruit (seeds).
Head of fruit (seeds)Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); close-up of head of fruit (seeds).©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); fruits (seeds).
TitleFruits (seeds)
CaptionBidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); fruits (seeds).
Copyright©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand
Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); fruits (seeds).
Fruits (seeds)Bidens frondosa (beggar-ticks); fruits (seeds).©Trevor James-2014/Hamilton, New Zealand


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Bidens frondosa L.

Preferred Common Name

  • beggarticks

Other Scientific Names

  • Bidens frondosa f. frondosa
  • Bidens frondosa var. anomala Porter ex Fernald
  • Bidens frondosa var. caudata Sherff
  • Bidens frondosa var. frondosa
  • Bidens frondosa var. minor Hook.
  • Bidens frondosa var. pallida Wiegand
  • Bidens frondosa var. stenodonta Fernald & H. St. John
  • Bidens melanocarpa Wiegand
  • Bidens melanocarpa var. melanocarpa
  • Bidens melanocarpa var. pallida Wiegand

International Common Names

  • English: bur marigold; devil's beggarticks; devil's bootjack; devil's pitchfork; pitchfork weed; spanish needles; sticktights; tickseed sunflower
  • Spanish: cáñamo de agua americano
  • French: biden feuillu; bident à fruits noirs
  • Chinese: da lang pa cao

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: dvouzubec
  • Germany: Dichtbelaubter Zweizahn; Schwartzfrüchtiger
  • Hungary: feketés farkasfog
  • Italy: forbicina peduncolata
  • Netherlands: Zwart tandzaad
  • Portugal: erva-rapa
  • Sweden: fläderskära

Summary of Invasiveness

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B. frondosa is a herbaceous annual native to North America. It has been introduced widely in Europe and to other parts of the world and is mostly found in temperate climates. The majority of introductions into new countries are intentional, due to the medicinal, herbal and decorative properties ascribed to the species. However, seeds can be accidentally dispersed into new areas as they can adhere firmly to animal fibres such as wool. In Europe B. frondosa has been reported to outcompete and interbreed with native plant species in particular those of the same genus. B. frondosa is classified as an environmental weed in New Zealand.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Bidens
  •                                 Species: Bidens frondosa

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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B. frondosa belongs to the Asteraceae, family. The exact number of species within the genus is uncertain but has been suggested to contain between 150-250+ species in tropical and warm temperate regions of the world (Flora of North America, 2014).

The Latin name Bidens refers to the two-teeth on the seeds (bis – two, dens – tooth) (Flora of North America, 2014). The Latin word frondosa means leafy. Its common name of devils beggartick refers to the two barbed awns of the seed, which are suggested to resemble the devil.


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The following description has been modified from the Flora of North America (2014). Annual, (10–)20–60(–180) cm high. Leaves: petioles 10–40(–60) mm long; blades deltate to lance-ovate overall, 30–80(–150+) × 20–60(–100+) mm long, 3(–5)-foliolate, leaflets petiolulate, lanceolate to lance-ovate, (15–)35–60(–120) long × (5–)10–20(–30) mm across, bases cuneate, margins dentate to serrate, sometimes ciliate, apices acuminate to attenuate, faces glabrous or hirtellous. Heads usually borne singly, sometimes in 2s or 3s or in open, corymbiform arrays. Peduncles 10–40(–80+) mm long. Calyculi (subsidiary circle of small bracts outside the involucral phyllaries) of (5–)8(–10) ascending to spreading, spatulate or oblanceolate to linear, sometimes ± foliaceous bractlets or bracts 5–20(–60) mm, margins usually ciliate, abaxial faces glabrous or hirtellous. Involucres campanulate to hemispheric or broader, 6–9 × 7–12 mm. Phyllaries (bracts surrounding the capitulum) 6–12, oblong or ovate to lance-ovate, 5–9 mm. Ray florets 0 or 1–3+; laminae golden yellow, 2–3.5 mm. Disc florets 20–60(–120+) mm long; corollas ± orange, 2.5–3+ mm. Cypselae (fruits) blackish to brown or stramineous, ± obcompressed, obovate to cuneate, outer 5–7 mm, inner 7–10 mm, margins antrorsely or retrorsely barbed, apices ± truncate to concave, faces usually 1-nerved, sometimes tuberculate, glabrous or sparsely hirtellous; pappi of 2 ± erect to spreading, antrorsely or retrorsely barbed awns 2–5 mm. 

Plant Type

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Seed propagated


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B. frondosa is native to North America (parts of Canada and all USA states except for Montana). This species has been introduced around the world into many European countries, China, French Guiana, Japan, Lebanon, Morocco, New Zealand, South Korea and Tajikistan (Han et al., 2009; Nobis and Nowak, 2011; Flora of China, 2014; Q-bank, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014). It has not been recorded as present in South America.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
-JiangxiPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
-ShanghaiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2014
JapanPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
Korea, Republic ofPresentIntroduced Invasive Han et al., 2009
LebanonPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
TajikistanPresentIntroduced Invasive Nobis and Nowak, 2011Recorded in roadside ditches along roads in the Kafernigan River valley
TurkeyPresentIntroduced Invasive USDA-ARS, 2014


MoroccoPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014

North America

CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlbertaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-British ColumbiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ManitobaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New BrunswickPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-Nova ScotiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OntarioPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-Prince Edward IslandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-QuebecPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-SaskatchewanPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
MexicoPresentIntroducedFlora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-AlaskaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ArizonaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ArkansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-CaliforniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ColoradoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-ConnecticutPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-DelawarePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-District of ColumbiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-FloridaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-GeorgiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-HawaiiPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IdahoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IllinoisPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IndianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-IowaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-KansasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-KentuckyPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-LouisianaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MainePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MarylandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MassachusettsPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MichiganPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MinnesotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MississippiPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-MissouriPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-NebraskaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-NevadaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New HampshirePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New JerseyPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New MexicoPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-New YorkPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-North CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-North DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OhioPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OklahomaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-OregonPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-PennsylvaniaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-Rhode IslandPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-South CarolinaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-South DakotaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-TennesseePresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-TexasPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-UtahPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-VermontPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-WashingtonPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-West VirginiaPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-WisconsinPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014
-WyomingPresentNativeUSDA-NRCS, 2014

South America

French GuianaPresentIntroducedQ-bank, 2014


AustriaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
BelarusPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
BelgiumWidespreadIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Invasive species in Belgium, 2014
Bosnia-HercegovinaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2014
BulgariaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Invasive Šumberová et al., 2004
CroatiaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
Czech RepublicPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
DenmarkPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
EstoniaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
FrancePresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
-CorsicaPresentEPPO, 2014
GermanyPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
HungaryPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
ItalyPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
-SicilyPresentEPPO, 2014
LatviaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
LithuaniaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
MoldovaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedSîrbu, 2006Recorded in Iasi and at the railway border, Piatra Neamt
MontenegroPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedStesevic et al., 2008
NetherlandsPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
NorwayPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
PolandWidespreadIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
PortugalPresentIntroduced Invasive Biorede, 2014; EPPO, 2014North-west, south-west and the center of mainland Portugal
RomaniaPresentIntroduced Invasive Sîrbu, 2006Danube delta
Russian FederationPresentEPPO, 2014
-Central RussiaPresentIntroduced Invasive Vasilyeva and Papchenkov, 2011; EPPO, 2014
SerbiaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SlovakiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-ARS, 2014
SloveniaPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SpainPresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014
SwitzerlandPresentIntroduced Invasive Invasive alien species in Switzerland, 2006; EPPO, 2014Jura, Plateau, south of the Alps
UKLocalisedIntroduced Invasive EPPO, 2014; Online Atlas of British and Irish Flora, 2014
UkrainePresentIntroducedEPPO, 2014; USDA-ARS, 2014


New ZealandWidespreadIntroduced Invasive Webb et al., 1988

History of Introduction and Spread

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B. frondosa was introduced to Italy as an ornamental plant in the second half of the 1700s, becoming naturalized first in Tuscany in 1849 and later in Sicily, before its appearance in the Po Valley in the 1960s. Now, however, it has spread over the entire Po Valley, particularly in summer crops such as maize, soybean, sugarbeet, dry-sown rice, etc., but also in uncultivated areas (Danuso et al., 2012). Its distribution in Europe commonly follows the course of the main rivers, suggesting that seeds may be spread by water (Šumberová et al., 2004). B. frondosa was recorded as first cultivated in Britain in 1710 where it was a herbal plant (Online Atlas of British and Irish Flora, 2014).

Records indicate that it was introduced into New Zealand before 1907 where it is now recognised as an invasive species (Webb et al., 1987). 

Risk of Introduction

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B. frondosa has been introduced to a number of countries worldwide but has not yet been recorded from South America or most of Asia, Africa and Australasia. There is an appreciable risk of its further spread, given the propensity of its seeds to adhere firmly to animal fibre and to become entangled in vegetable matter. It has also been used as a medicinal herb in North America (Flora of North America, 2014) and seeds of this species are readily available for sale.


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In North America, its native range, B. frondosa is found in a wide range of habitats. For example it can be found in moist woods, meadows, thickets, fields, roadsides, railroads, borders of streams, ponds, sloughs, swamps, ditches (Flora of North America, 2014). Holter (1999) adds that this species occurs in a variety of locations, from fields to low woods, wet meadows, swamps and marshes, in roadside ditches and around lakes and ponds.

In Europe, its introduced area, it has been reported from disturbed areas, lakes, riparian zones, urban areas, watercourses and wetlands (Q-Bank, 2014). In Italy it is also an agricultural weed associated in maize, sugarbeet and dry sown rice (Danuso et al., 2012). In Belgium, B. frondosa is similarly described as a pioneer species of moist ground, colonising river banks, mud flats, ditches, ponds and other open alluvial habitats (Invasive species in Belgium, 2014). Wherever it occurs, B. frondosa tends to be associated with damp habitats.

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Wetlands Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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The diploid number of B. frondosa has been reported as 2n = 24, 48, 72 (Flora of North America, 2014).

Members of the Asteraceae family have a high prevalence of apomixy (asexual production of seeds). Therefore species of Bidens may exhibit apomixy however Noyes (2007) concludes that the evidence is ‘equivocal’ until proven by conclusive cytological and genetic investigations. A study by Crowe and Parker (1981) could not find any meiotic divisions in pollen mother cells of their populations of B. frondosa, although pollen was still eventually produced, perhaps by mitotic division. The authors suggested that the species B. connata resulted from hybridization between B. frondosa and B.cernua, either from a cross between an unreduced gamete of B. cernua (2n = 24) with a normal gamete of B. frondosa (2n = 48), or a cross between a 2n = 24 of B. frondosa with a typical gamete of B. cernua.

Reproductive Biology

B. frondosa is an annual herb that flowers in August and September in its native North America (Flora of North America, 2014) and in Europe (Brändel, 2004). In New Zealand it flowers in November to May (Webb et al., 1988).The achenes (seeds) are in two forms, the central ones being brown and elongated, the peripheral ones black and thicker. The longer central achenes are apparently better adapted to dispersal, since they have longer teeth and stand exposed in the seed head (capitulum). The peripheral achenes are shorter, have shorter teeth and stand close to the involucral bracts which are of similar length to the outer achenes (Brändel, 2004). It has been suggested that the central achenes are adapted for long distance dispersal by animals while the fast germinating peripheral achenes have a lower dispersal capability (Invasive species in Belgium, 2014). These morphological differences are related to differences in dormancy as discussed below. Šumberová et al. (2004) indicated that seeds may be spread by water, a view supported by Comes, et al. (1978) who found that seed could germinate after prolonged submersion in water.

Physiology and Phenology

A study by Brändel (2004) found that both forms of achenes were dormant when freshly collected, after dry storage or after stratification at 5oC for two or four weeks. After 13 weeks of stratification, though, clear differences emerged between achene morphs as well as between achenes from the two populations tested. Both morphs from the two populations reached maximum germination after four days when tested at 25oC, with 75% or 65% of peripheral achenes germinating, but only 45% or 18% of central ones germinating. Nearly all achenes germinated after 21 days at 20/10oC. No achenes germinated at a constant 15oC. On the basis of his studies, Brändel (2004) deduced that the peripheral achenes are less likely to disperse and that their function is to maintain a population in its current favourable environment for germination and growth. The central achenes he regards as ‘colonizers’, better suited to dispersal and with higher dormancy to ensure that all seeds do not germinate at the same time. It was also suggested that germination in the autumn following dispersal is unlikely because of the seeds requiring higher or fluctuating temperatures. Therefore germination probably occurs in late spring for both morphs. Comes et al. (1978) found that between 40 and 65% of seeds of B. frondosa still germinated after 60 months storage under water. They also found that a higher percentage of seeds germinated when stored in water compared to those dry stored (Comes et al., 1978).


Plants of B. frondosa are apparently strictly annual.

Population Size and Structure

In countries to which it has been introduced, B. frondosa and its possible hybrids have been reported to achieve dense populations. In Turkey B. frondosa occurs as populations of more than 100 plants and competes well with native species in the same habitats (Coskunçelebi, 2007).


In Oregon B. frondosa is usually found in association with the smartweeds (Polygonum species), common cattails (Typha latifolia) and the yellow pond Lily (Nuphar lutea) (Holter, 1999).

A study by Stevens et al. (2011) investigated the effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi on seedling growth and development of B. frondosa. They found that inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi had no detectable effect on the root length, volume or leaf surface area of B. frondosa


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Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aix sponsa Herbivore Seeds not specific Landers et al., 1977
Epiblema otiosana Herbivore Leaves/Stems not specific Decker, 1932, December
Meloidogyne hapla Predator/parasite Roots not specific Bélair and Benôit, 1996

Notes on Natural Enemies

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In North America, its native range, B. frondosa is attacked by the bidens borer moth (Epiblema otiosana) which is known to attack other species in the genus Bidens (Decker, 1932). The adult moths deposit their eggs on the leaves of the host in summer. After the eggs hatch the larvae initially feed inside the leaves and then move into the stems of the plant where they form spiral burrows which effectively girdle and kill the plant, after which the larvae move on to other plants. The larvae overwinter within the plants and eventually pupate within the burrow and adult moths emerge in May or June (Decker, 1932). In Quebec it was found that B. frondosa could serve as a host of the northern root-knot nematode Meloidogyne hapla, an important pest of vegetable crops (Bélair and Benoit, 1996). In South Carolina the seeds of B. frondosa are consumed by wood ducks (Aix sponsa) (Landers et al., 1977).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

There is evidence that seeds of B. frondosa can be dispersed by water as the plants are often found growing close to waterways (Comes et al., 1978; Šumberová et al., 2004).

Vector Transmission

The central achenes of B. frondosa are adapted for dispersal by animals (Brändel, 2004) due to their larger size, longer teeth and more pronounced protrusions from the seed head. The seeds can also become entangled in wool and other animal fibres, including clothing (Online atlas of the British and Irish flora, 2014), as well as in harvested vegetation such as hay. Carlquist and Pauly (1985) investigated the adherence ability of several presumed epizoochorous fruits to different materials (velvet, artificial wool and artificial fur). Their studies found that B. frondosa achenes adhered better to artificial wool than to artificial fur, indicating that the achenes are best suited to attachment to curly strands.

Accidental Introduction

Once introduced to a country, B. frondosa may be accidentally spread by animals and human activity. As a result it could also be inadvertently introduced to other counties with porous land borders.

Intentional Introduction

B. frondosa is widely used as a medicinal herb in its native North America (Flora of North America, 2014; HerbNet, 2014). It is believed that this is the reason for its introduction into Europe and also for its ornamental or novelty value (Danuso et al., 2012).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Hitchhiker Yes Online Atlas of British and Irish Flora, 2014
Medicinal use Yes Yes Flora of North America Editorial Committee, 2014; Online Atlas of British and Irish Flora, 2014
Ornamental purposes Yes Yes Danuso et al., 2012

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Host and vector organismsOn fur of animals Yes Brändel, 2004
Mulch, straw, baskets and sodAs a contaminant in hay Yes
Water Yes Comes et al., 1978

Impact Summary

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Environment (generally) Negative

Environmental Impact

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In Europe, where B. frondosa is both introduced and invasive, there is evidence that the species displaces native species of Bidens such as B. tripartita resulting in the disappearance of local populations. Additionally, in Russia, reductions in populations of B. radiate have been recorded (Vasilyeva and Papchenkov, 2011). B. frondosa can also interbreed with native Bidens species, ultimately replacing them with hybrids or with a new form of the alien B. frondosa (Vasilyeva and Papchenkov, 2011). A study by Danuso et al. (2012) suggested that B. frondosa can grow taller than the native congener B. tripartita and can achieve higher seed production potential and competitive ability. It is believed that this enhances its invasiveness over native species. In Bulgaria, Šumberová et al. (2004) state that in some stands along the Danube riverbank B. frondosa has become dominant over a number of native species. It has been classified as an environmental weed by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (Howell, 2008).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition
  • Hybridization
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant


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Economic Value

According to Rahman et al. (2011) B. frondosa is potentially a useful source of essential oil extracts with antibacterial and antioxidant properties. The economic value of this is unknown.

Social Benefit

Infusions and tinctures of B. frondosa have a wide range of medicinal properties. They can be used for treatment of irritation, inflammation, pain and bleeding of the urinary tract mucosa and are used for benign prostatic hypertrophy and increasing excretion of uric acid and decreasing the risk of gout attacks (Flora of North America, 2014).

In addition to this it has been reported to treat palpitations of the heart, cough and uterine derangement (HerbNet, 2014). Roots or seeds are used as an expectorant in throat irritation. The tea or tincture acts to soothe the membranes, increase mucus secretions and expectoration and decrease edema and swelling. B. frondosa infusions have also cured several cases of croup and have been useful in whooping-cough. B. frondosa is also apparently an excellent herb for benign prostatic hypertrophy and it is claimed to increase the efficiency of the kidney’s excretion of uric acid from the blood and also acts as a diuretic to dilute the urine. The herb is also active against staph infections. Its astringency and anti-inflammatory effects on the mucus membranes help act as a tonic and preventative for gastritis and ulcers and diarrhea and ulcerative colitis. The tea will often help hay fever and sinus headaches from allergies, infections or pollution.

Environmental Services

Muskrats, Ondatra zibethicus use the plant as a food source and many waterfowl eat the fruits (Landers et al., 1977; Holter, 1999).

Uses List

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  • Ornamental

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Other species of Bidens are rather similar in general appearance to B. frondosa. In the Flora of North America (2014) it is distinguished from other North American species by its 3(–5)-foliolate leaves with leaflets lanceolate to lance-ovate and its (5–)8(–10) calyculus bractlets. In Europe it is distinguished from the otherwise similar B. tripartita (also known as bur marigold) by the lack of the narrow wing on the petiole of the latter (Stace, 1991).

Prevention and Control

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Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Modern phytosanitary regulations and inspections, where well developed, ought to limit the spread of B. frondosa to the many countries where it does not occur. However, where there are porous land borders between countries, seeds could easily be transported to new countries by animals or vegetation being moved from one country to another.

Physical/Mechanical Control

There is limited information available on mechanical control of B. frondosa however plants could be pulled before seeds are set and the vegetative material composted.

Biological Control

In South Korea, where B. frondosa is an invasive weed of rice fields, streamsides, roadsides and the margins of fields, Han et al. (2009) surveyed insect herbivores associated with the plant. They found nine species of lepidopteran larvae feeding on the plants. The most likely candidate for a biological control programme was thought to be Hadjina chinensis since it was the most prominent species in both cultivated and fallow paddy fields, the most damaging to B. frondosa and the only herbivorous species restricted to species of Bidens (Han et al., 2009). Further studies however are required to determine whether this agent would be suitable for biological control.

Chemical Control

The effectiveness of adding non-ionic and ionic adjuvants or methylated seed oil to glyphosate to improve its action on B. frondosa has been investigated (Sharma and Singh, 2000). Results found that glyphosate formulated with an ionic adjuvant gave significantly higher control than without and that the addition of methylated seed oil achieved an even greater level of control. Zandstra and Particka (2004) indicate a number of herbicides that are active against species of Bidens. Post emergent herbicides include bentazon, chlorimuron, lactofen, MCPA and MSMA and lactofen as a pre-emergent herbicide (Zandstra and Particka, 2004).


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03/04/2014 Original text by:

Ian Popay, Landcare Research, New Zealand

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