Spanish Needles (Bidens pilosa)

Common names:
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Botanical names:
Bidens pilosa Accepted
Bidens alba Synonym
Bidens alba var. radiata Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 7a -17.8 °C (0 °F) to -15 °C (5 °F)
Plant Height: 1-4 feet
Plant Spread: usually 8-12 inches, but tall plants can be 2-3 feet
Leaves: Evergreen
Other: dependent on zone it's growing in
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: White
Flower Time: Spring
Late spring or early summer
Late summer or early fall
Late fall or early winter
Suitable Locations: Xeriscapic
Uses: Will Naturalize
Suitable as Annual
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Propagation: Seeds: Sow in situ
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Tip
Pollinators: Hoverflies
Containers: Suitable in 1 gallon
Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Needs excellent drainage in pots


Honey Bees in the Garden:  JuneHoney Bees in the Garden: June
By Mindy03 on June 1, 2011

June brings the end of school, Father's Day and summer. Summer brings hot weather and plants may need extra water. Honey bees will also need extra water to keep the hive cool.

(Full article5 comments)
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Posted by flaflwrgrl (North Fl. - Zone 8b) on Dec 22, 2011 9:13 PM

Bidens alba is in the Aster family and is quite closely related to the genus Coreopsis. It has a very strong taproot, and it is almost impossible to pull up the whole root. However, in my own experience, first year plants are quite easy to pull up. As the growing seasons goes on & the plants attain height, the weight of the flowers & seedheads tend to weigh down the tips such that the stem will touch the ground, and when that happens they often root along the nodes of those stems. Bidens alba will grow almost anywhere under any conditions, wet or dry, and in any soil. The seeds have 2 little wiry filaments on the tips, which catch on animal fur, birds, and human hair or clothing. All of this adds to the profusion of these plants.
The blooms are a favorite of many different butterflies, some of which are the grey hairstreak, great purple hairstreak, red banded hairstreak, and dogface. Monarchs depend on Bidens for a nectar source during their migration. A vast number of pollinators can be found visiting Bidens at any time.
Despite the fact that most gardeners would consider this plant a pest of the worst kind, it is an important factor in honey production. Bidens alba is the third most common reliable source of nectar for honey bees.
The flowers and young leaves are edible in salads.

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Posted by plantladylin (Sebastian, Florida - Zone 10a) on Apr 27, 2014 11:36 AM

Bidens pilosa is a perennial that grows everywhere here in Florida. It's a profuse re-seeder and I find it popping up in my flower beds every year. To most gardeners this plant is considered a weed to be immediately removed while others consider it a beautiful wildflower that attracts many butterflies and bees to the garden. The seeds resemble black needles with barbed hooks at the ends. Seeds are dispersed by the wind as well as by attaching themselves to clothing or fur as people and animals brush against them. Bidens pilosa produces thousands of seeds that remain viable for up to 5 years so if you don't want a mass of these plants in your garden it's best to dig them out before they set seed.

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Posted by Mindy03 (Delta KY) on Oct 20, 2011 5:50 PM

Honey bees get nectar from this plant

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Aggressive weed by LucyP Jun 16, 2019 10:05 PM 9
Good or bad seedlings? by SparklesGarden May 9, 2019 6:59 PM 6
Not Layia platyglossa. Maybe Bidens alba? by MrsBinWY Nov 17, 2018 9:05 AM 4
Flower ID by Nicxr Oct 5, 2018 7:48 PM 8
What plants are these? by Sukiro Mar 4, 2019 10:25 PM 14
Weed or something I want to keep? by Murky Jul 13, 2017 8:49 PM 9
Can someone please identify this weed by GreenIvy Mar 9, 2017 12:07 PM 7
Anyone recognize this one? by plantladylin Feb 10, 2017 1:57 PM 11
Growing Milkweeds by luvsgrtdanes Sep 12, 2020 8:13 PM 547
Bee Friends And Other Garden Guests - Chapter 5 by wildflowers Oct 2, 2016 9:51 AM 950

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