Help With Weed ID

by Daisy on 09/03/2013

Thank you for visiting Little House in the Suburbs. If you like what you see, please SUBSCRIBE.

Every year I sow seeds of several plants I’ve only read about and never before seen. Medicinal herbs in particular.

Sometimes this leads me to err on the side of caution when an unfamiliar plant begins to grow in the general vicinity of those new plantings.  I have a sneaking suspicion it is likely a “weed” but I let it get bigger and bigger, thinking it will tell me whether or not it is “something.”

Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. Often I am left watching it grow, occasionally fruitlessly taking a switch of it inside to try and identify it using computer weed identification sites, but my lack of knowledge of botanical terminology hampers my progress.

So, in short, can anyone tell me what this is:

IMG_1293The seedheads look like this:


And here’s a really bad pic of the flower, which is tiny, less than 1/2″:


The plant has gotten about 3-4 feet around. Does it look familiar to anyone?

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikkence September 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm

The seed head & flower looks like what we call “Cobbler’s pegs” ( – the seed heads stick to everything, but especially kids’ socks. But the leaves don’t look the same, so it may be a variety we don’t get around here. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

Daisy September 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Nikkence–It is definitely a close relative, if not the same thing. Thank you! It looks like we’re on the right track.

Debra September 3, 2013 at 7:16 pm

You can check with your extension service. They have Ag Educators

Kay September 4, 2013 at 4:46 am

It resembles a marigold to me, for whatever that’s worth.

Daisy September 4, 2013 at 5:33 am

Kay–The seeds do look just like marigold seeds.

Judy S September 4, 2013 at 6:21 am

Must be kin to marigold.

Tracy September 4, 2013 at 6:28 am

We call the seeds “stick-tights”. I’ve never seen the whole plant before, just the darn stickers! It’s a weed… get rid of it.

Lisa S September 4, 2013 at 6:50 am

This is what we in the Northeast call a wild marigold.

Debbie September 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

That may be a form of what we call in the south, tick seed. They stick to everything and are really hard to remove from clothes fibers. Also, these can be incredibly invasive. I try to pull them as soon as I see them sprout, which is hard when I’ve started tomatoes from seed as they look nearly identical to one another at the early stage.


mary Francis September 4, 2013 at 8:37 am

Have you grown marigolds then just let them go to seed? These look like second generation marigold that has gone back to wild marigolds. I had them all over my flower bed and made the mistake of letting them grow a third time and boy! Was I sorry, took them to a gardening center and he told me they were marigolds allowed to go back to wild, if that helps. I will never do that again. Now I pluck them as soon as the seedlings leaf.

leisa September 4, 2013 at 8:53 am

I’d guess a hybrid marigold produced this sad offspring.

Ilex22401 September 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

It’s a weed, probably Bidens pilosa, not a wild marigold (same family though).

Ann September 4, 2013 at 9:32 am

Go to the below site. Green Deane is a very knowledgeable individual and maybe able to help you with your identification. Here is his site.

Jean September 4, 2013 at 9:32 am

Can’t identify it, but pretty sure it’s a weed ‘cos I have it in Georgia too. Here is a website that may help in future plant identification:

Ray Main September 4, 2013 at 9:40 am

Ditto to everyone else’s comments. I don’t know the botanical name of the thing, but they grow wild in NW Arkansas and are considered to be a weed. If you let the stickers go ahead and drop off you will never get them out of your garden.

David September 4, 2013 at 11:12 am

A second vote for Bidens pilosa. The flower looks nearly identical to the picture in the wikipedia entry for Bidens pilosa.
Around here (South Africa) they’re known as “Blackjacks” or “Sweethearts”. Why “Sweethearts”? Probably because they’re so clingy…

Melodae Farley September 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm

They’re tall beggar-ticks.

Maggie September 4, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Sorry, I don’t know the name. We always called them “hitch hikers”. Extremely invasive! Hard to get rid of once they go to seed because they stick to anything that touches them, animals and clothing.

Beverly September 4, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I love these comments! I have a hard time getting anything to grow except weeds. Last year, I thought my marigolds were doing amazingly well, until I realized marigolds don’t grow to be three feet tall. They were so thick and tall, they choked other plants out. The seeds do stick to everything. I have them again this year and was fooled again until they got so tall and thick. I’m a slow learner.

Mike Corbeil September 25, 2013 at 2:26 am

Nikkence, Ilex22401 and David are all evidently correct, the only difference being the name. The scientific name is what Ilex22401 and David said, which is Bidens pilosa, but while David only spoke of the flower seeming to be the same, besides for slight color difference, as what you show in the third picture, it isn’t only the flower. What you show in the second picture also matches with what the Wikipedia page for Bidens pilosa shows for an “Immature stellate infructescence”.

Bidens pilosa is a species of flowering plant in the aster family, Asteraceae. It is native to the Americas but it is known widely as an introduced species of other regions, including Asia and the Pacific Islands.[1] Its many common names include beggar-ticks, cobbler’s pegs, and Spanish needle.[1]


… The infructescences form stellate spherical burrs about one to two centimeters in diameter. The barbed awns catch onto animals or clothing, and can injure flesh. It is an effective means of seed dispersal by zoochory, as the seeds are transported by animals. This mechanism has helped the plant become a cosmopolitan weed in temperate and tropical regions.

End quote

Here’s the enlarged photo of the immature stellate …

The enlarged photo of the flower,

For the flower, only the petals vary a little in color from the flower in the picture you provided. At Wikipedia, the petals are a light yellow. Otherwise, the flower looks identical and maybe the light yellow is due to stage of maturity, or period of season, or type of soil.

Is the plant a weed, or food? I’ll quote from the Wikipedia page again.

Quote: “This plant is considered a weed in some tropical habitats. However, in some parts of the world it is a source of food or medicine.[2]”

I once worked on a farm in southeastern Quebec, Canada and visited the place in 2001 with a guy who’s highly familiar with wild plants here. He pointed out a plant that the farmer treats as a week and said that it’s edible. We were with the farmer and he agreed. I forget the name of the plant, but they both said that it’s treated as a vegetable in some parts of Africa. They said it can be eaten raw, so I tried some and it was just fine.

Reference no. 2 has no link, only being, quote: “Jump up ^ Grubben, G. J. H. & O. A. Denton. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen”.

You might possibly find the following page useful.

That page shows a flower that looks like the one you provided a photo of, except that the petals are white.

You definitely seem to be showing photos of a Bidens pilosa, according to the Wikipedia page, and maybe the leaves of this species can vary a little in shape, while the flower petals may also vary in colour.

The page says parts of the plant are consumable, but the page also says something about phytotoxicity. Doing a Web search using “Bidens pilosa” and edible for search terms turns up plenty of links. It seems that not only parts of the plant are edible, it also has several medicinal uses. But, a person in Florida posted a comment in one of the pages that I looked over and it seems that this is a super invasive plant species in that state.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: