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Friday, February 7, 2014

Flower Friday: Beggar's tick is great for attracting pollinators

Beggar's tick (Bidens alba). Photo/Walter K. Taylor
No matter what you call it — beggar's tick, Spanish needle, monkey's lice — Bidens alba is likely the most underappreciated of all Florida's native wildflower.

Beggar’s tick (Bidens alba)       
Beggar’s tick is often considered a weed because it reproduces so prolifically, but it is a great native wildflower for attracting pollinators. In Florida, it is the third most common source of nectar for honey production. This member of the Aster family produces blooms with white ray flowers and yellow disc flowers that attract many butterflies like the queen and gulf fritillary. Beggar’s tick is easy to grow and blooms spring through fall (year-round in warmer climes). The flowers and tender leaves are edible.

Family: Aster (Asteraceae)
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 7–10).
Soil: Does best in rich, moist soils but also does well in dry, sandy soils.
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
Growth habit: Plants typically grow between 1 to 4 feet tall and can spread to several feet wide. The green compound leaves contain three to nine toothed leaflets. Flowers appear in stalked clusters.
Garden tips: A single plant can produce 3,000-6,000 seeds that are dispersed by wind and water, but most often attached to fur or clothing. If you don't want them to take over your garden, you must be persistent in pulling the the plants before they go to seed.

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