Common Beggar's Tick

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Common Beggar's-tick is a plant often known as (Hairy Beggar's-tick). It goes by the scientific name Bidens Alba. Beggar�s tick belongs to the Compositae (Asteraceae) which is a family of Sunflowers. Bidens in Latin signifies double pronged and refers to two projections that usually appear at top of the seed. Alba in Latin denotes white, which refers to the flowers. Just like a tick, the seeds of beggar�s tick hook themselves on to people, animals or insects and spread themselves in the wild.

Growth of plant

Common Beggar's-tick is an annual or short-term perennial with tapered roots that often start at the shallow nodes. When the plant grows, it may either grow erect or bend at the base. The opposing leaves are complex, measuring 1-3 inches in length and about 1-2 inches in width. The leaf edges are serrated and the bottom of the leaf has fine hairs. The flowers appear like a daisy or a sunflower. The flowers on the outside appear like white petals. Flowers that form in the shallow center are quite small and yellowish in color. The seeds are more rectangular, with sharp projections on the top.


Beggar's tick is often confused with a dahlia plant, but the former is slight taller and has dark red stems. The leaves on the beggar's tick may vary from 3-5 and have a serrated appearance along the edges. Almost invariably, the leaves in the beggar's tick arise in pairs. Beggar's tick has a short flowering season and plants do die out during the cold winter months. In the wild, Beggar�s tick may be seen growing along waterways, wet land, dense forest and in areas of moist humid soil.

Beggar�s tick can be grown on a landscape but in the wild, its growth can be significant and hence it is often referred to as a weed. Beggar�s tick is often seen growing wild in the southern states especially Florida. The weeds tends to grow anywhere in the subtropics or tropics, where the temperatures are warm and there is ample water.

When flowers mature, the seeds easily disperse with aid of the thorny projections that cling on to grazing animals or large insects. Once the seeds fall on the ground, they germinate relatively easily. However, germination can be facilitated by slicing one end of the seed. On average, each beggar�s tick plant produces over a thousand seeds and this explains the wild growth.


While beggar�s itch does produce nice flowers, one does need to control its growth. If growth is not controlled, then this charming plant can turn into a weed. Most herbicides can easily control growth of the plant. Since the plant is a prolific producer of hundreds of seeds from May to September, it is important to use the herbicide during these times. The herbicide selected should be safe for other plants and not remain in the soil for prolonged periods. Experts recommend use of Aminopyralid, 2-4-D or triclopye to kill the excess weed. These herbicides provide weed control about 3-4 months after initial application.

If there has been excess growth, the entire plant needs to be removed from soil. Removal is easy but one should try and limit seed dispersal during removal. Some gardeners will cover the plant with a plastic bag before proceeding to removal from soil. Anytime weed control is undertaken, follow up is required to ensure that the plant is not regrowing.

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Author: Tammy Sons

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