Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks, Etc.)

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks, Tickseed Sunflower, etc.) on 9-8-18, #504-10.

Tickseed Beggarticks, Bearded Beggarticks, Tickseed Sunflower, Western Tickseed, Long-Bracted Beggarticks, Bur Marigold, Swamp Marigold, Yankee Lice

Bidens aristosa

BY-denz  a-ris-TOE-suh

Synonyms of Bidens aristosa (9) (Updated on 11-20-22): Bidens aristosa var. fritcheyi Fernald (1913), Bidens aristosa f. fritcheyi (Fernald) Wunderlin (1973), Bidens aristosa var. mutica (A.Gray) Gatt. ex Fernald (1913), Bidens aristosa f. mutica (Gray) Wunderlin (1973), Bidens aristosa var. typica Sherff (1948)(not validly publ.) Coreopsis aristata Willd. (1803), Coreopsis aristosa Michx. (1803), Coreopsis aristota var. mutica A.Gray (1867), Diodonta aristosa Nutt. (1841)

Bidens aristosa (Michx.) Britton is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Bidens. It was named and described by Nathaniel Lord Britton in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club in 1893. It was first named Coreopsis aristosa by André Michaux in Flora Boreali-Americana in 1803.

The species Bidens aristosa is similar to Bidens polylepis. The wildflower websites I have checked list one species or the other. The USDA Plants Database and a few other websites say Bidens polylepis is a synonym of Bidens aristosa. Plants of the World Online by Kew lists both as accepted. Maybe a DNA test should be done to make sure… I am not sure which species is growing here on the farm, but I am sticking with B. aristosa for now… A comes before P. 🙂 If testing is done, Bidens aristosa will win because it was named in 1893 while Bidens polylepis was named in 1922. Of course, they could give it a completely different name…

The genus, Bidens L., was described by Carl von Linnaeus in the second volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. 

As of 11-20-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 222 species in the Bidens genus. Bidens is a member of the plant family Asteraceae with 1,689 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO. The number of genera fluctuates often. 

Distribution map of Bidens aristosa from the USDA Plants Database. Published on the internet at Retrieved on May 4. 2021.

The above distribution map for Bidens aristosa is from the USDA Plants Database for the United States and Canada. The map on Plants of the World Online by Kew doesn’t show as wide a range in North America, but it shows it as introduced to France, Great Britain, and India. 

The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks, etc.) flowers on 9-6-18, #503-2.

There are several good-sized colonies of Bidens aristosa on the farm that I try to avoid once they go to seed. I “think” they are Bidens aristosa, for the most part, but they are very similar to Bidens polylepis… There has been a lot of confusion and disagreement between the two species. Some botanists treat Bidens polylepis as a synonym of Bidens aristosa. Even the USDA Plants Database lists it as a synonym. Most websites have one or the other but I have never seen both on the same site (except one that says Bidens polylepis=Bidens aristosa on both pages).

I added several observations (different dates) with several photos on iNaturalist. The first observation with 7 photos (the first 6 on this page) became research grade. Yeah, I was an iNaturalist newbie and added multiple dates to the same observation. Anyway, I added them as Bidens aristosa and the observation became research grade. After that, all dates were added as separate observations.

The flowers are complex with 5-8 ray flowers, and 20-80 yellow disc flowers. I could give a longer description but it doesn’t even make sense to me. Its seeds are short, slender, and wedge-shaped with two barbs that stick to animal fur and pant legs.

Flowers are popular among a large variety of insects and caterpillars of several moth species feed on this plant as well.

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks, etc.)  leaves on 9-6-18, #503-3.

Leaves are opposite, petiolate, deeply lobed or pinnately compound with lanceolate to liner sharply toothed leaflets and up to 8″ long. The four-sided (but rounded) stems can be green and sometimes purplish or mottled.

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks, etc.) on 9-6-18, #503-4.

When identifying many plants whose flowers look like other species, you may have to look at many features. Flip the flowers over and look at their undersides… Well, it is best you read the description of the “involucre” from the experts below. It gives me a headache. 🙂

According to Missouri Plants (slightly edited), the involucre consists of 8-25 outer bracts, 4-12 mm long, that are spreading or reflexed, linear, often twisted… The margins of the bracts usually have short, spreading hairs while the inner surface is glabrous (without hairs)… The inner bracts, 6-8, are 4-12 mm long, narrowly lanceolate to narrowly ovate, glabrous… Chaffy bracts are narrowly lanceolate, usually with brownish margins and tips, and are glabrous. Missouri Plants does not have Bidens polylepis but mentions it is very similar on the B. aristosa page…

Hmmm… Involucre… The definition is a whorl or rosette of bracts surrounding an inflorescence (especially capitulum) or at the base of an umbel… My baldness is not just because of heredity… Some sites are calling them phyllaries.

<<<< 2019>>>>

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 8-28-19, #616-1.

I took the above photo near the swampy area in the southeast corner of the farm. This particular plant was fairly tall.

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-4-19, #623-11.

There are several genera of wildflowers that have multiple species that look so much alike it is hard to tell them apart. Bidens aristosa is very similar to Bidens polyepis.


Illinois Wildflowers is a very good website for wildflower research and they list Bidens polylepis and not Bidens aristosa. They say, “It has a very similar appearance to Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Sunflower). However, the flowerheads of this latter species are individually subtended by 8-10 outer bracts (phyllaries); these bracts are shorter, less hairy, and less contorted than those of Bidens polylepis. The achenes of Bidens aristosa usually have pairs of conspicuous awns at their apices, otherwise they are very similar in appearance to those of Bidens polylepis.” I have looked at photos of the involucral bracts of both species and I can’t tell the difference.

Well, I think the only way to know for sure is you observe the bracts of both species side by side. Even then, both species are probably variable, and if you look at a multitude of flowers of both species you may find the bracts vary or they could be very similar. Even the age of the flowers and location could make a difference…

SO, if you don’t mind, I am going to stick with Bidens aristosa for now… Both species even share several common names… iNaturalist uses the common name Tickseed Beggar-Ticks for Bidens aristosa and Bearded Beggarticks for Bidens polylepis. Many websites use the name Bearded Beggarticks for Bidens aristosa. Illinois Wildflowers likes the name Long-Bracted Tickseed Sunflower for Bidens polylepis… I was using Bearded Beggarticks, like Missouri Plants and the USDA Plants Database says, but I switched to Tickseed Beggarticks since I haven’t seen that name used for B. polylepis. 🙂

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-7-19, #625-1.

There is a HUGE colony in front of the pond in the back pasture. In 2020 I will probably be looking at the undersides of A LOT of flowers. 🙂 This observation was the second one I uploaded on iNaturalist and no one agreed or disagreed… Well, you certainly can’t tell from a photo like that. I wouldn’t agree either. Every observation of a controversial species should include MULTIPLE close-ups, especially of their involucral bracts… Which, in the case of Bidens aristosa and B. polylepis, would just make you more confused.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-1.

The above photo and the next 7 were taken on a friend’s farm on 9-14-20. There are two pastures along the highway, which are kind of in a low spot, that was LOADED. Actually, I took the photos in his neighbor’s pasture… Anyway, I forgot to upload them on iNaturalist until 10-17-21 so I will have to wait to see that other members say.

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-2.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-3.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-4.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-5.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-6.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-7.


Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-14-20, #743-8.

Well, those photos seem pretty detailed to me. I took photos of the involucral bracts on open flowers but they were blurry. You just never know…

Bidens aristosa (Tickseed Beggarticks) on 9-20-20, #744-4.

The above photo was taken on the farm I live on, I think by the back pond. It was the third observation of Bidens aristosa I added on iNaturalist. This time, a member disagreed and suggested Bidens polylepis. I almost had to laugh because you can’t tell from this photo… Well, I didn’t laugh because he was one of the curators. 🙂 I don’t know why I didn’t take more detailed photos unless it was because I was hunting for something else and just took a single shot.

I didn’t take any photos of the Bidens aristosa, or whatever you call it, in 2021 or 2022. Maybe I can in 2023.

I live on a small farm in Windsor, Missouri where I enjoy gardening, collecting plants, and identifying wildflowers. The farm is in Pettis County but Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away. I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a horticulturalist I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.

I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at I would enjoy hearing from you.

The Illinois Wildflowers link is for Bidens polylepis



NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂


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