Beggarticks, Bur-marigolds & Allies

Fern-leaved Beggarticks Niger Nodding Bur-marigold Fern-leaved Beggarticks

What are they?

The species on this page are yellow-flowered members of the daisy and dandelion family - the Asteraceae. The flowers of beggarticks are typical of the group, in having strap-like petals or 'rays' around the outside of the compound flowerhead only, with the small florets in the centre being petalless and forming a button-like middle. Unlike other members of this family, this group has flowerheads with less than 10 strap-like petals - and often less than six. These plants are annuals or herbaceous perennials and are often grown in gardens as ornamentals. The bur-marigolds are in the same genus as the beggarticks, but their flowers do not have the yellow, strap-like petals around the outside, they simply have the button-like centre.

Where are they found?

Most are plants that are grown ornamentally and are most likely to be found as garden escapes or throw-outs on roadsides and waste ground in urban places.

Identification

The flowers of this group can seem all rather similar at first (apart from the presence or absence of the yellow petals), so it pays to make a note of leaf detail and to take a close look at the phyllaries (the green bracts around the base of the flowerhead), which should make identification relatively straight forward.



Nodding Bur-marigold      Bidens cernua

Native of wetlands along good-quality waterways, but much declined from its former distribution. Flowers July to September. A variable plant, generally growing to 30-60cm but sometimes taller, in swampy, shady places. Leaves simple with coarsely toothed margins.

Nodding Bur-marigold Nodding Bur-marigold Nodding Bur-marigold Nodding Bur-marigold
Habit
Flowerhead
Leaf
Seeding head


Trifid Bur-marigold      Bidens tripartita

Native of a range of wetland habitats. Generally less common than Nodding Bur-marigold, except in parts of the Fens. Flowers July to September. A variable plant, generally growing to 15-75cm. Leaves mostly dived into three, narrow lobes.

Trifid Bur-marigold Trifid Bur-marigold Trifid Bur-marigold Trifid Bur-marigold
Habit
Flowerhead
Phyllaries
Leaf


Fern-leaved Beggarticks      Bidens aurea

Introduced from the Americas as a garden ornamental, this plant has recently started appearing where it has self-seeded into cracks in pavement and walls in urban areas. Flowers July to October. A low, sprawling species with very finely cut leaves. This plant was formerly called Bidens ferulifolia but is now part of a rather bewildering complex of very different forms that have all been lumped together. Several are grown as garden ornamentals and may appear as garden escapes in the future.

Fern-leaved Beggarticks Fern-leaved Beggarticks Fern-leaved Beggarticks Fern-leaved Beggarticks
Habit
Flowerhead
Phyllaries
Leaf


Wall Lettuce      Lactuca muralis

A rather local plant, more widespread in Norfolk than elsewhere in the region. Typically found in shady places on dry banks, but also commonly found in churchyards and old gardens where it often grows from cracks in old walls. Flowers July to September. Leaves smooth, strongly lobed into sharply angular sections. Flowerheads are small, typically 1-1.5cm across, consisting of five florets and carried in quantity on a spreading, many-branched spike. Stems to 100cm in height, often strongly tinged purple.

Wall Lettuce Wall Lettuce Wall Lettuce
Habit
Habit
Flowerhead
Wall Lettuce Wall Lettuce
Leaf
Leaf


Niger      Guizotia abyssinica

Introduced from East Africa as a source of oil seed and now commonly used as a constituent of birdfood. Plants occasionally germinate from spilt birdfood in urban and garden environments. Flowers July to October. Often grows to 30-60cm in height, but may grow to two metres or more in ideal conditions, although the plant is not frost hardy and many plants are seen only with leaves and do not reach flowering. Leaves are lance-shaped and clasp the stem in pairs at their bases. Flowers are carried in loose clusters at the top of the plant and each flowerhead usually has eight 'petals'.

Niger Niger Niger Niger
Habit
Flowerhead
Phyllaries
Leaf bases