Bidens pilosa (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

1, flowering and fruiting plant; 2, flowering head; 3, ray floret; 4, disk floret; 5, achenes (P. Verheij-Hayes)

Bidens pilosa L.

Protologue: Sp. pl. 2: 832 (1753).


  • Bidens sundaica Blume (1826),
  • Bidens leucorrhiza (Lour.) DC. (1836),
  • Bidens pilosa L. var. minor (Blume) Sherff (1925).

Vernacular names

  • Black jack (En).
  • Sornet (Fr)
  • Indonesia: ajeran, hareuga (Sundanese), jaringan, ketul (Javanese)
  • Malaysia: kancing baju, pau-pau pasir, keroten
  • Papua New Guinea: ivu na mag (Gunantuna, New Britain), rakot (Kurtatchi, Bougainville)
  • Philippines: dadayem (Ibanag), burburtak (Ilocano), pisau-pisau (Bisaya)
  • Thailand: puen noksai (northern), kee nok sai, yaa koncham khaao (central)
  • Vietnam: dơn buốt, tử tô hoang, qủy trâm thảo.


B. pilosa originates from tropical America but is now distributed and naturalized as a weed in most tropical and subtropical regions of the world, even sometimes extending into some temperate areas. In South-East Asia it is common in many places, except in Kalimantan and the Moluccas.


B. pilosa is widely used in traditional medicine against numerous complaints, often to soothe pain. An infusion or decoction, or the juice of the leaves is used against coughs, angina, headache, fever, diabetes, constipation, diarrhoea, intestinal worms, stomach-ache, toothache, poisoning, muscular pains and as a bath to treat itching and rheumatic pains. Crushed leaves, sometimes heated over a fire, are applied on the skin to treat inflammations, burns, on wounds to stop bleeding and on ulcers. In Papua New Guinea, crushed flower-heads are often used externally to extract pus from boils. A decoction of the leaves or of the roots is applied on eyelids to treat eye infections. A tincture of the flowers and leaves is used as a mouthwash against toothache. Roots are chewed against toothache. In Indonesia, the Philippines and Africa, young shoots and young leaves are eaten raw or cooked as a vegetable. Leaves as vegetable in the daily diet have been observed to prevent goitre in the Philippines. The plant is sometimes used as fodder.


  • An annual, usually erect herb up to 1(-2) m tall, stem 4-angled, glabrous or sparsely pubescent.
  • Leaves opposite, pinnately 3-5-lobed, occasionally the lower and/or upper leaves simple, up to 15(-20) cm long, glabrous or sparsely pubescent on both surfaces, margin usually serrate or crenate-serrate, the segments ovate to ovate-lanceolate, the terminal one largest, petiolate.
  • Capitula solitary or in lax paniculate cymes, usually radiate, 5-12 mm broad, outer involucral bracts 7-10, spathulate, reflexed at anthesis, 3-4 mm × 0.5-0.8 mm, inner ones ovate-lanceolate.
  • Ray flowers absent or 4-8, sterile, corolla 7-15 mm long, white to yellow or pinkish, disk flowers with 3.5-5 mm long, yellow corolla.
  • Achenes linear, 4-6-ribbed, 4-13 mm long, with 2-3(-5) retrorsely barbed bristles of 2-4 mm long.

B. pilosa is a very common weed of sunny, often disturbed places like roadsides, fields, thickets and along watercourses, up to 2500 m altitude.

Selected sources

  • Alvarez, L., Marquina, S., Villareal, M.L., Alonso, D., Arranda, E. & Delgado, G., 1996. Bioactive polyacetylenes from Bidens pilosa. Planta Medica 62(4): 355-357.
  • Amaral, A. & Takaki, M., 1993. Weed seed germination. III. Bidens pilosa L. Arquivos de Biologia e Tecnologia (Curitiba) 36(2): 401-408.
  • Avalos, A.A., Diaz, M.Q. & Guerrero, M.C., 1984. Influence of extracts from leaves and stem of Bidens pilosa on experimental ulcerogenesis in rats. Revista Farmaceutica de Cuba 18(2): 143-150.
  • Backer, C.A. & Bakhuizen van den Brink Jr, R.C., 1963-1968. Flora of Java. 3 volumes. Noordhoff, Groningen, the Netherlands. Vol. 1 (1963) 647 pp., Vol. 2 (1965) 641 pp., Vol. 3 (1968) 761 pp.
  • Ballard, R., 1986. Bidens pilosa complex (Asteraceae) in North and Central America. American Journal of Botany 73: 1452-1465.
  • Bohlmann, F., 1990. Chemistry of the Heliantheae (Compositae). Plant Systematics and Evolution Suppl. 47: 67-75.
  • Brandao, M.G.L., Krettli, A.U., Soares, L.S.R., Nery, C.G.C. & Marinuzzi, H.C., 1997. Antimalarial activity of extracts and fractions from Bidens pilosa and other Bidens species (Asteraceae) correlated with the presence of acetylene and flavonoid compounds. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 57: 131-138.
  • Bremer, K., 1994. Asteraceae, cladistics & classification. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, United States. 752 pp.
  • Burkill, I.H., 1966. A dictionary of the economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Revised reprint. 2 volumes. Ministry of Agriculture and Co operatives, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Vol. 1 (A-H) pp. 1-1240. Vol. 2 (I- Z) pp. 1241-2444.
  • Chagnon, M., 1984. General pharmacologic inventory of Rwandese medicinal plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 12(3): 239-251.
  • de Padua, L.S., Lugod, G.C. & Pancho, J.V., 1977-1983. Handbook on Philippine medicinal plants. 4 volumes. Documentation and Information Section, Office of the Director of Research, University of the Philippines at Los Baños, the Philippines.
  • Dharma, A.P., 1981. Indonesische geneeskrachtige planten [Indonesian medicinal plants]. De Driehoek, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 168 pp.
  • Gagnepain, F., 1924. Composées [Compositae]. In: Gagnepain, F. (Editor): Flore générale de l'Indo Chine [General flora of Indo China]. Vol. 3. Masson & Cie, Paris, France. pp. 448-663.
  • Geissberger, P. & Sequin, U., 1991. Constituents of Bidens pilosa L.: do the components found so far explain the use of this plant in traditional medicine? Acta Tropica 48(4): 251-261.
  • Heyne, K., 1950. De nuttige planten van Indonesië [The useful plants of Indonesia]. 3rd Edition. 2 volumes. W. van Hoeve, 's Gravenhage, the Netherlands/Bandung, Indonesia. 1660 + CCXLI pp.
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1977. Medicinal plants of Papua New Guinea. Technical Paper No 175. South Pacific Commission, Noumea, New Caledonia. 123 pp.
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1987. Medicinal plants of the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. Part. IV. The Goilala Mountain People. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 25: 231-235.
  • Holdsworth, D.K., 1987. Medicinal plants of the Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. Part V. The Upper Watut. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 25: 225-230.
  • Holdsworth, D.K. & Rali, T., 1989. A survey of medicinal plants of the Southern Highlands, Papua New Guinea. International Journal of Crude Drug Research 27: 1-8.
  • Holm, L.G., Plucknett, D.L., Pancho, J.V. & Herberger, J.P., 1977. The world's worst weeds. Distribution and biology. East West Center, the University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu, United States. 609 pp.
  • Jager, A.K., Hutchings, A. & Van Staden, J., 1996. Screening of Zulu medicinal plants for prostaglandin synthesis inhibitors. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 52(2): 95-100.
  • Lasure, A., Van Poel, B., De Clarck, L.S., Bridts, C.H., Stevens, W.J., Rwangabo, P.C., Pieters, L. & Vlietinck, A.J., 1995. Screening of Rwandese plant extracts for their influence on lymphocyte proliferation. Phytomedicine 1(4): 303-307.
  • Li, H. L., 1978. Compositae. In: Li, H. L., Liu, T, S., Huang, T. C., Koyama, T. & DeVol, C.E. (Editors): Flora of Taiwan. Vol. 4. Epoch Publishing Co., Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China. pp. 768-965.
  • Matthew, K.M., 1977. Reproductive biology of Bidens pilosa L. (Compositae). Current Science 46(7): 238-239.
  • Mesfin, T., 1984. The genus Bidens (Compositae) in NE tropical Africa. Symbolae Botanicae Upsalienses 24(1): 1-138.
  • Nguyen Van Duong, 1993. Medicinal plants of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Mekong Printing, Santa Ana, California, United States. 528 pp.
  • Perez, R.M., Ocegueda, A., Munoz, J.L., Avila, J.G. & Morrow, W.W., 1984. A study of the hypoglycemic effect of some Mexican plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 12(3): 253-262.
  • Perry, L.M., 1980. Medicinal plants of East and Southeast Asia. Attributed properties and uses. MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States & London, United Kingdom. 620 pp.
  • Pételot, A., 1952-1954. Les plantes médicinales du Cambodge, du Laos et du Vietnam [The medicinal plants of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam]. 4 volumes. Centre National de Recherches Scientifiques et Techniques, Saigon, Vietnam.
  • Quisumbing, E., 1978. Medicinal plants of the Philippines. Katha Publishing Co., Quezon City, the Philippines. 1262 pp.
  • Sherff, E.E., 1937. The genus Bidens. 2 parts. Field Museum of Natural History 16: 1-709.
  • Smitinand, T., 1980. Thai plant names. Royal Forest Department, Bangkok, Thailand. 379 pp.
  • Soerjani, M., Kostermans, A.J.G.H. & Tjitrosoepomo, G., (Editors) 1987. Weeds of rice in Indonesia. Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, Indonesia. 716 pp.
  • Wang, C.M., Ohta, S. & Shinoda, M., 1990. Studies on chemical protectors against radiation. XXXII. Protective effects of methanol extracts of various Taiwan crude drugs on radiation. Yakugaku Zasshi 110(11): 885-889. (in Japanese)
  • Wat, C.K., Biswas, R., Graham, E., Bohm, L. & Towers, G.H.N., 1978. UV mediated antibiotic activity of phenylheptatryne in Bidens pilosa. Planta Medica 33(3): 309-310.
  • Wijayakusuma, H.M.H., Wirian, S.W., Yaputra, T., Dalimartha, S. & Wibowo, B., 1992. Tanaman berkhasiat obat di Indonesia [Plants yielding medicine in Indonesia]. Vol. 1.

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