Bidens bipinnata

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Bidens bipinnata
Bidens bipinnata Gil.jpg
photo by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae ⁄ Compositae
Genus: Bidens
Species: B. bipinnata
Binomial name
Bidens bipinnata
BIDE BIPI dist.jpg
Natural range of Bidens bipinnata from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Spanish needles

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: none[1]

Varieties: Bidens bipinnata var. bipinnata; B. bipinnata var. biternatoides[1]


A description of Bidens bipinnata is provided in The Flora of North America.

B. bipinnata is an annual herb. It tends to be a ruderal, weedy species.[2]




B. bipinnata is found in marsh and island communities, river bluffs, and pine-oak woodlands. It has also been found in disturbed areas including campgrounds, roadsides, ditches, disturbed coastal hammocks, old fields, and fire line. This species prefers shaded environments and moist sandy soil types like sandy loam, red sandy clay, and loamy sand.[2] It does not respond to soil disturbance by clearcutting and chopping in North Florida flatwoods forests.[3]

Associated species include Quercus geminata, Desmodium ochroleucum, Desmodium rotundifolium, Pinus, other Quercus sp., Cornus florida, Liquidambar styraciflua, and others.[2]


This species has been observed flowering and fruiting from July to October.[2][4]

Seed dispersal

The barbed awns of the seeds allow for the seed to attach to animals and humans and be dispersed far distances.[5]

Fire ecology

B. bipinnata is a seeder; 70% mortality when subjected to 100% leaf scorch[6]. It is fire tolerant and frequent in firebreaks.[2]


Bidens bipinnataby is pollinated by Honeybees, leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp., Coelioxys sayi, Heriades leavitti), and the butterfly Pieris rapae.[5] Additionally, this species has been observed to host pollinators in the Andrenidae family such as Andrena aliciae and Pseudopanurgus rugosus, Lasioglossum pilosum (family Halictidae), as well as insects from the family Membracidae Acutalis tartarea and Entylia carinata.[7]

Herbivory and toxicology

Caterpillars of moths Cirrhophanus triangulifer, Condica confederata, Epiblema otiosana, Palthis asopialis, Platysenta mobilis, and Synchlora aerata feed on the foliage. Leaf beetles Calligrapha bidenticola and Calligrapha californica feed on the leaves. The aphid Aphis coreopsidis sucks juices from the flowering stalks. Seeds are eaten by birds such as the Ring-Necked Pheasant, Bobwhite, Wood Duck, Purple Finch, and Common Redpoll. The foliage is eaten by the cottontail rabbit.[5]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultivate in partial sunlight, moist to mesic conditions with fertile loamy soil.[5]

Cultural use

The plant can be used as a potherb and tends to be abundantly wild in the south.[8]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: Bian Tan, Loran C. Anderson, Ed Keppner, Lisa Keppner, Richard S. Mitchell, R.K. Godfrey, R. Kral, Wilson Baker, R. Komarek, Andre F. Clewell, R.A. Norris, and Andre F. Clewell. States and Counties: Florida: Columbia, Wakulla, Bay, Calhoun, Leon, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, and Liberty. Georgia: Grady.
  3. Moore, W.H., B.F. Swindel, and W.S. Terry. (1982). Vegetative Response to Clearcutting and Chopping in a North Florida Flatwoods Forest. Journal of Range Management 35(2):214-218.
  4. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 19 MAY 2021
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 ( Wildflowers. Accessed: April 4, 2016
  6. []Fire Manager. Accessed: April 4, 2016
  7. [1]
  8. Fernald, et al. 1958. Edible Plants of Eastern North America. Harper and Row Publishers, New York.