Bidens bipinnata. Spanish Needles.
Nat. Ord. — Asteraceae. Sex. Syst. — Syngenesia Frustranea.
Root and Seeds.
Description. — Bidens Bipinnata is an annual plant, with a smooth, branched stem growing from one to four feet high ; the leaves are bipinnately parted, nearly smooth, petioled ; the leaflets are ovate-lanceolate, pinnatifid, mostly wedge-shaped at the base; heads of flowers on slender peduncles, each with three or four obscure, obovate, yellow rays ; outer involucre of linear scales as long as the inner, and nearly as long as the short, pale, yellow rays ; achenia long and slender, four-grooved and angled, nearly smooth, three or four awned, which adhere to the dress and to the fleece of animals.
History. — This is a common plant, growing in waste places on dry soils, flowering from July to September, and found from Connecticut to Pennsylvania, and westward.
The Bidens Frondosa, common Beggar-Tick, has a smooth, branching, rather hairy stem, from two to six feet high ; the leaves are three to five, divided; leaflets lanceolate, pointed, coarsely toothed, mostly stalked; outer leafy involucre much longer than the head, ciliate below ; rays none ; flowers in clusters at the end of the branches, yellow ; achenia wedge-obovate, two-awned, the margins ciliate with upward bristles, except near the summit. This is a common, very troublesome weed, growing in moist, cultivated fields throughout the United States ; the achenia, as in the other species, adhering by their retrorsely-barbed awns to clothes, etc. It flowers from July to September.
The Bidens Connata (Bidens tripartita,) Cuckold, or Swamp Beggar's Tick, has a smooth stem, four-furrowed, with opposite branches, and grows from one to three feet high. The leaves are lanceolate, opposite, serrate, acuminate, slightly connate at the base, the lower ones mostly trifid ; the lateral divisions united at the base, and decurrent on the petiole ; scales of the outer involucre longer than the head, leafy, mostly obtuse, scarcely ciliate ; rays none ; achenia narrowly wedge-form, two, three, or four-awned, and with downwardly-barbed margins. Flowers terminal, solitary, consisting only of the tubular, yellow florets, surrounded by a leafy involucre. This is likewise a common weed found in wet grounds, rich fields, swamps and ditches, from New England to Missouri. It flowers in August. The root and seeds of all these plants are employed medicinally, and may be used in decoction, infusion, or tincture.
Properties and Uses. — Emmenagogue and expectorant ; the seeds in powder or tincture have been successfully used in amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, and some other uterine derangements; and an infusion of the root has proved beneficial in severe cough. The Bidens Connata has likewise been recommended in the above affections, also in palpitation of the heart, in which the infusion or decoction, drank freely through the day, has been found effectual. The Bidens Frondosa in infusion has cured several severe cases of croup, even where they have been considered beyond aid. A strong infusion of the plant, sweetened with honey, was administered to the children, warm, in doses of a tablespoonful or more every ten or fifteen minutes, until it vomited. A quantity of mucous and membranous shreds were ejected, followed by immediate relief ; the children passed into a sleep, from which they awakened perfectly well. In a few hours after the emetic operation of the warm infusion, it acted as a cathartic. The leaves from which the infusion was made, were, at the same time, placed in a piece of flannel with some brandy added to them, and laid over the chest and throat. This plan is also beneficial in colds, acute bronchial and laryngeal attacks from exposures to cold, etc.