Monday, September 7, 2009

Sticky Birds Sticky Burrs! (Beggar Ticks)

Beggar Ticks, Bidens frondosa, is another success story in the use of Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. With those leaflets, for a moment I thought I had a cannabis variant!

When I was a kid, I knew this plant by its barbed achenes that would stick to my green sweater. Back then I called them sticky birds (see comments below for the real story!). As the season progresses, I'll try to pick up some photos.

From Popular Science:

"It is strange how an interest is suddenly awakened about the most commonplace objects in life. We move for years among old, familiar things without giving them a passing thought, when all at once some subtle spell is cast about them, and they become vested with a charming interest. I have tramped many times though autumn woods and picked off the "stickers" with no good will, but today they strike me as more than "stickers". I have discovered an old friend among them."

Trotter, Spencer. Burs and Beggar's Ticks. Popular Science. Nov 1897. 68-9. Web. Google Book Search.


  1. I could have sworn it was an aster, so thanks for the enlightenment! It is in the family Asteraceae, so I am at least in the ballpark. JW

  2. I must give a good deal of credit to Newcomb's--I'm liking the ID method. My Dwelley guides come in Tuesday and I'm so looking forward to trying them out. It curious how we each seem to have our own favorites.

  3. I think you might have been trying to say sticky burrs; that's what we called em as kids. As a matter of fact, that's what I still call them.

  4. Joyce, you're right! Oh my, after all these years!

    I just got off the phone with my sister Jean out in Oklahoma and she assures me that you are correct. She always called them sticky burrs! This is an absolute riot! Now I gotta ask my brother and see if he had it screwed up too! :-)

  5. That anonymous correction wasn't by Joyce, because I thought maybe Sticky Birds might be another common name for them. Somebody else caught you. - Joyce

  6. Oh my, am I confused or what! Something tells me I'll end up laughing every time I mention the name Sticky BURRS!!! :-)