Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Bidens leptocephala, Fewflower Beggarticks

Fewflower Beggarticks has small yellow flowers usually without ray florets or they may have 2 or even 3 as in the photo. This species blooms from August to October in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Bidens leptocephala Fewflower Beggarticks has bracts or phyllaries surrounding the floral head usually oblong to lanceolate in shape. Bidens leptocephala Fewflower Beggarticks has 3 to 6 linear bractlets or calyculi, 1 to3 mm long with ciliate margins. Bidens leptocephala Fewflower Beggarticks; fruits have a reddish-brown achene, linear in shape and with 2 barbed awns or pappi on their tips; barbs that readily stick to humans and animals as well and thus dispersing seeds and future plants. Bidens leptocephala Fewflower Beggarticks has light green leaves, opposite with stems. The leaves are lobed, 1 to 2 variable divisions; ovate or lanceolate to linear. Bidens leptocephala Fewflower Beggarticks grows up to 1 foot or so with solitary floral heads on tips of long slender stems. This species is found in AZ, NM and TX near the Rio Grande River and prefers elevations from 3,000 to 6,000 feet. Bidens leptocephala

Scientific Name: Bidens leptocephala
Common Name: Fewflower Beggarticks

Also Called: Few-flower Beggarticks, Tickseed (Spanish: Saitilla)

Family: Asteraceae, Sunflower Family

Synonyms: (Bidens leptocephala var. hammerlyae, Bidens leptocephala var. leptocephala, Bidens leptocephala var. ulinei)

Status: Native

Duration: Annual

Size: Approximately 1 to 1.5 feet (30-50 cm) tall.

Growth Form: Forb/herb; erect; stems green, slender.

Leaves: Light green; opposite, with with petioles, the petiole ciliate-hispid; leaves rounded-deltate overall, 1 to 2 pinnately divided, ultimate lobes ovate or lanceolate to linear.

Flower Color: Yellow, yellowish to whitish; heads solitary or in groups of 2 or 3; heads on tips of long slender to filiform peduncles often in corymbiform arrays; heads rarely radiate, discoid; ray florets absent or 2 to 3; disk florets 5 to 13; corollas yellowish to whitish; phyllaries green, oblong to lanceolate; fruit a reddish-brown cypsela (often mistaken for an achene) linear with 2 retrorsely barbed awns or pappi on tips.

Flowering Season: August to October or September in California.

Elevation: 3,000 to 6,000 feet (900-1,800 m).

Habitat Preferences: Fewflower Beggarticks prefers mid to higher elevations, along streams, moist areas, preferring shady sandy areas.

Recorded Range: In North America, Fewflower Beggarticks is found in AZ, NM and TX near the Rio Grande River. It is also found in Baja California and northwest Mexico. In Arizona, it is found in the central, southern and northeastern parts of the state.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Bidens leptocephala.

North America species range map for Bidens leptocephala:
North American range map courtesy of Virginia Tech, Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation

North America species range map for Bidens leptocephala: Click image for full size map
Click image for full size map

U.S. Weed Information: Unknown
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: Unknown

Wetland Indicator: In North America Bidens leptocephala has the following wetland designations: Arid West, FAC; Great Plains, FACW; Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FAC.
FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands
FACW = Facultative Wetland, usually occur in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands.

Threatened/Endangered Information: Unknown

Genus Information: In North America there are 50 species for Bidens. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 249 accepted species names and a further 595 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus Bidens.

The genus Bidens was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, New Mexico and Texas each haves 12 species of Bidens, California has 7 species, Nevada and Utah each have 4 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: In Arizona, Fewflower Beggarticks has a narrow window of preferred habitat where it is usually associated with water or moist areas. Although it ranges well into central Arizona it is primarily a southern Arizona species with records extending into Mexico and throughout Baja California. It is well represented in New Mexico but barely reaches into Texas.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see Apache Beggarticks, Bidens aurea, Bigelow's Beggarticks, Bidens bigelovii and Smooth Beggarticks, Bidens laevis.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
Seeds of Bidens leptocephala may likely be eaten by birds and small mammals.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
Daisy type flowers such as Fewflower Beggarticks often attract a myriad of insects.

The genus Bidens is derived from the Latin bis, "twice", and dens, "tooth", together meaning "2-toothed" a reference to the bristles on the achene fruits. The genus Bidens was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

The specific epithet "leptocephala"is derived from the Greek root "lepto" meaning slender or thin and the Latin root "cephala" meaning head.

Bidens common names include; Beggarticks, Black Jack, Burr Marigolds, Cobbler's Pegs, Spanish Needles, Stickseeds, Tickseeds and Tickseed Sunflowers, all references to the barbed awns or pappi on the fruit.


Date Profile Completed: 9/28/2012; updated 02/27/2020
Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles.
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 01/30/2020)
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 01/30/2020).
John L. Strother, Ronald R. Weedon, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 21 | Asteraceae | 4. Bidens leptocephala Sherff, Bot. Gaz. 64: 22. 1917. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
FNA 2006, Wiggins 1964, Kearney and Peebles 1969, McDougall 1973 Field Guide; A. Hazelton 2015;
from SEINet plant page for Bidens leptocephala.
Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet (accessed 02/02/2020). Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
'Bidens leptocephala', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 April 2018, 21:26 UTC, [accessed 2 February 2020]
SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information.
ETYMOLOGY: Michael L. Charters; California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology; (accessed 01/31/2020)