Alternative MethodsConventional Methods

Pesky Blackjacks as Medicine?
Oct 14, 2020

The most annoying ‘weed’ I know, is the blackjack! They stick to your clothing and even your body hair! Taking the dogs for walks always end up in these nasty burrs getting stuck in their fur. And trust me, with three Alaskan Malamutes that is no fun!

But don’t be so quick to hate it! It does actually have some surprising uses!

Common names: Blackjack, Spanish needle, hairy beggar ticks, farmer’s friend, cobbler’s pegs, pitchforks.

In African countries the blackjack forms part of their staple meals. The leaves and flowers are edible but the burs are simply too woody and hard to eat.

History and Uses

As for the medical implications, in 1991 Egyptian researchers documented Biden Pilosa had antimicrobial activity against a wide array of bacteria including:

\* Salmonella

\* Staphylococcus

\* Neisseria Gonorrhe

\* Klebsiella Pneumonia * Tuberculosis

It is also good for malaria, snake bite and has anti-leukemia activity. Research shows it lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, stimulates the immune system and is anti-inflammatory.

The powdered seeds are a topical anesthetic and aid clotting. There are also some reports the seeds might be good for prostate issues.

Anti-inflammatory properties also significantly cut the likelihood of autoimmune conditions like type1 diabetes and lupus. Plus, antioxidants in blackjack slow down aging and are able to reduce appearance of wrinkles.

The nutritional composition of the Biden Pilosa per 100 g edible portion is:

water 85 g, calories 43, protein 3.8 g, fat 0.5 g, carbohydrate 8.4 g, fiber 3.9 g, β-carotene 1800 μg, (Leung, W.-T.W., Busson, F. & Jardin, C., 1968).

Another study found 111 mg of calcium and 2.3 mg of iron. These researchers also recommend you don’t eat the leaves raw because of a high saponin content. As a potherb they are excellent with many fine qualities.

They are available all year round, keep very well, and don’t reduce in size when cooked. If they are a bit tangy, just let them sit cooked a few minutes. They store well.

Wine made from Bidens is called sinitsit. Incidentally, dried leaves of the B. Alba also make a good tobacco substitute. There are many edible Bidens and they grow just about everywhere so check out your local species.

Those with edible leaves include Bidens bipinnata, Bidens frondosa, Bidens odorata, Bidens parvifolia, Bidens tripartita and Bidens laevis. Leaves of the Bidens aurea and Bidens bigelovii have been used for tea.


This natural, eco-safe mixture is effective against aphids, ants, beetles and caterpillars. It prevents some from eating plants, repels others, or kills them.


1 part blackjack

1 part khakibos

1 litre water, plus hot water for soaking


1. Chop up the green parts of the plants, including the seeds.

2. Cover with hot water and soak for 24 hours then strain.

3. Cool and add the rest of the water. Shake well and use immediately. I put the mixture in a spray bottle.


Add a teaspoon or two of dishwashing liquid or soap to your sprays. This not only helps the solution stick to the plants, if sprayed directly on pests, it disrupts their breathing.

Every plant has a use…you just need to discover it!

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