Bidens bipinnata L. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Spanish Needles. It was given this name and described by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
The genus, Bidens L., was described by Carl von Linnaeus in the second edition of Species Plantarum in 1753. According to Plants of the World Online, there are 220 accepted species in the Bidens genus as of 8-17-19 when I am updating this page. There were 231 when I first started this page on 10-20-18. Version 1.1 of The Plant List in 2013 listed a total of 229 species plus 20 infraspecific names. That just goes to show you many plants have multiple species names and botanists (etc.) are at work sorting them out.
There are way too many Bidens bipinnata on the farm growing in colonies or even as single plants. I remember as a kid getting their seeds stuck in my socks. Too many times, even now, I have to remove them from my plants before going into the house. I try to avoid them but sometimes you just have to wade in. They are definitely one of those plants we love to hate.
I have many Marigolds and one bed I have to smell the leaves to tell which are Marigolds and Spanish needles. They look a lot like Marigold seedlings.
Spanish Needles are no problem until they go to seed. In fact, the plants are kind of nice looking with their dark green ferny leaves and yellow flowers. Every time I want good flower photos they are either haven’t flowered yet, closed, or fading… Some day!
Bidens bipinnata are classed with plants with opposite leaves. The Missouri State University website Midwest Weeds and Wildflowers describe the leaves as being finely divided (bipinnately compound).
When not in flower and if you are not used to being around them, there are a few other weeds that have similar leaves. The horrible Japanese Hedge Parsley, Torilis japonica, is a “stick-tight” that has similar leaves and is probably the one I love to hate the most (and anyone else who has had to remove them from your socks, clothes, and pets fur). Another weed with similar leaves is the Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)
This species has been introduced to many countries and is probably a U.S. native and maybe even China.
They are very adaptable plants and are not really picky about their location. I have them on the farm in full sun to part shade. Information online says they can grow up to 5′ tall… Hmmm. I would hate to run through a patch that tall.
Now that you know the name, you can say “BIPINNATA!” every time they get you instead of using foul language. Well, maybe in addition.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the farm and other areas. I have grown over 500 different plants and most have pages listed on the right side of the blog. 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.
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