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Publication #SP 37

Common Beggar's-tick (Hairy Beggar's-tick), Bidens alba (L.) DC.1

David W. Hall, Vernon V. Vandiver, and Jason A. Ferrell2


Common Names: Common Beggar's-tick (Hairy Beggar's-tick)

Scientific Name: Bidens alba (L.) DC.

Family: Compositae (Asteraceae), Sunflower Family


The cotyledons are linear with the midvein evident as a depression on the upper surface (). The first true leaves are opposite and deeply cut into segments, each being elliptic or nearly so and opposite.

Mature Plant

Common Beggar's-tick is an annual or short-lived perennial with a tap root and often roots at lower nodes, with the stems erect or bending at the base (Figure 2). The opposite leaves are compound, 2-10 cm long and 1-3.5 cm wide. The leaf edges are toothed and the underside of the leaf is hairy. The flowers are daisy-like. The outer flowers are petal-like white rays. The flowers in the center form a disc which has many, small, yellow flowers. The seeds are 4-angled and spindle shaped with 2-6 sharp-pointed projections at the top.

Figure 1. 

Seedling, Common Beggar's-tick (Hairy Beggar's-tick), Bidens alba (L.) DC.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Figure 2. 

Mature Plant, Common Beggar's-tick (Hairy Beggar's-tick), Bidens alba (L.) DC.

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


The Latin genus name Bidens means two-toothed and refers to the two projections usually found at the top of the seed. The Latin species name alba means white and alludes to the white flowers.


This weed is common in disturbed areas throughout Florida. It is found virtually everywhere in the subtropics and tropics of both hemispheres.


The seeds detach easily and projections at the top cling to passing animals. The seeds germinate easily, but germination can be enhanced by slitting the end. A plant produces an average of 1,205 seeds.


Hairy beggar's-tick is easily controlled by most broadleaf herbicides: 2,4-D, dicamba, triclopyr, etc. However, this weed is a prolific seed producer and the seed germinate readily in May and throughout the summer. A herbicide that does not possess soil activity will quickly control the plants present, but reestablishment from seed can occur rapidly. Aminopyralid has been shown to effectively control this species with preemergence and postemergence activity. Applied at 7 oz/A, Milestone (2 lb/gal aminopyralid) provides residual control for approximately 4 months after application.



This document is an excerpt from Weeds in Florida, SP 37, a publication of the Agronomy Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: May 1991. Revised: February 2006. Reviewed: February 2009. Please visit the EDIS Website at


David W. Hall, former extension botanist, Herbarium, Florida Museum of Natural History; Vernon V. Vandiver, associate professor emeritus, Agronomy Department; Jason A. Ferrell, assistant professor, Agronomy Department; Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville FL 32611.

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U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.