I’m in Florida this morning, and found a patch of Bidens alba we could pick and eat for breakfast.
Rachel sautéed the greens and we put them on our scrambled eggs and sausage.
The taste of Bidens is rich and green. It tastes like it’s good for you, but not in a bad way.
The plant is easy to identify, with its daisy-like flowers and prickly seed heads. There seems to be some confusion between B. alba and B. pilosa, but I don’t think it really matters. It’s this thing that we’re eating:
We harvest the new growth, pinching out the top leaves and stem. This is what I look for to harvest:
I filmed a video on Bidens alba long ago:
It’s the Florida weed I miss the most. Bees love it, the greens are good to eat, and it grows rapidly and produces plenty of new leaves all through the year – unless a frost takes it out.
I don’t find the leaves to be particularly good raw, but I like them a lot when stir-fried. They are not bitter, but earthy.
At one point when we lived in the Sunshine state, I realized that during most of the year, Florida provided us with so many nutritious greens we could forage that there was really very little reason to grow our own greens, other than a few we really liked, like moringa and collards.
If you learn how to forage, there’s always free food for the picking. EatTheWeeds.com is a good place to start.
Now I need to see if Bidens alba will grow in my Alabama backyard.
Hm. I knew rabbits love them. Didn’t know humans did. Thanks.
What?! Tickseeds are edible?
Stephen Buhner in his book ‘Herbal Antibiotics Natural Alternatives For Treating Drug-Resistanct Bacteria’ recommends Bidens Pilosa aka Spanish Needles as one of the systemic antibiotics.
I saw a article once but can’t find it . It said that Bidens alba had caffeine. Have you hear that before? If so I’d like to make a tea out of it.
Great article David! Love bidens alba!! Some things I learned from eating them over 5 years now… The tiny sprouts are great for a sore throat! Mine felt better in 15 minutes. Great fodder for chickens too! Especially with all the great medicinal properties. I have one in a pot that is several years old – more like a tree now – and it was not affected by the recent freezes. Amazing plants!
We get bidens pilosa here in Coastal Alabama, just a county south of you. Saw your books in Atmore last week!
Thank you – I’ve seen it down near the ocean, too.
Must’ve been at The Warehouse Market, north of town. They are wonderful people. Great little shop.
Hi David! Bidens alba or pilosa, grows “like a weed” up here in Vermont and New Hampshire since the seeds came to me in construction fill soil. Native, a caterpillar host plant and now, edible, love it! Other edible plants that arrived in that fill soil: biennial native evening primrose/Oenothera biennis, non-native and very delicious Dame’s Rocket/Hesperis matronalis, a very weedy perennial brassica with many uses: delicious small broccoli-like florets before phlox-like flowers open raw or cooked, young leaves for salad, older leaves for cooking, practically evergreen in z5, effective cabbage moth trap crop. Seeds are probably useful, too, but I manage it to keep from reseeding too much.
That is fascinating. I had assumed Bidens was a subtropical.