black-jack, beggarticks (beggar's ticks), farmer’s friends, Spanish needle, cobblers pegs, pitchforks, stick-tights, burr marigold

Bidens pilosa – the burr marigold

Bidens pilosa is a herbaceous flowering plant in the daisy family Asteraceae. It seeds have a burr that sticks on to the clothing of those who get near. So, people will involuntarily carry its seeds. Its many common names include black-jack, beggarticks (beggar’s ticks), farmer’s friends, Spanish needle, cobblers pegs, pitchforks, stick-tights, burr marigold.

  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Genus: Bidens
  • Species: B. pilosa
  • Vietnamese names: xuyến chi

Although the burr marigold has some medicinal properties in the view of traditional medicine, it is generally considered as a wild weed in Vietnam.

Culinary uses

In Vietnam, during the Vietnam War, soldiers adopted the burr marigold as a vegetable, which led to it being known as the “soldier vegetable”.

Sautéed bur marigold (cobblers pegs) with garlic
Sautéed bur marigold (cobblers pegs) with garlic

The leaves of B. pilosa have a bitter and a bit pungent taste, somewhat related to chrysanthemum greens (Glebionis coronaria). So, it should be blanched to dispel the pungent smell. Common cooking method is stir-frying with garlic or with beef. Sometimes it’s cooked in soups, or used in salads.

Burr marigold (cobblers pegs) salad with jerky
Burr marigold (cobblers pegs) salad with jerky
Burr marigold (cobblers pegs) soup with minced pork
Burr marigold (cobblers pegs) soup with minced pork

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