Photos of the Week – October 23, 2021

This time of year, when I’m walking through wetlands, there’s a good chance I’ll have hundreds of beggarticks seeds stuck to my clothing when I emerge. Woodlands have their own set of these annual plants, so the same risk is present if I duck into riparian forests. Variously known as beggarticks, bur-marigold, Spanish needles, and a series of epithets, these plants in the genus Bidens have a really effective seed architecture that helps them stick to any animal that brushes past.

Beggarticks seeds from a woodland across town. Those two barbed spines on top are really effective at grabbing clothing and fur.

As I’m picking the seeds off my jeans, sweatshirt, and socks, I try to remember that earlier in the season, at least some beggarticks species have really pretty flowers, and all of them provide pollen, nectar, and seeds as food for animals. During the summer, I appreciate seeing these plants in wetlands, especially, and even spend a fair amount of time photographing them. Below are a few examples of Bidens flowers I’ve photographed over the last few years.

Some species of beggarticks don’t produce ray flowers (what appear to be petals). I’m not sure what species this one is.
While they don’t produce showy flowers, these plants do turn an attractive red color in the fall – just before their seeds dry out and start grabbing anything that comes past.
I think this is Bidens cernua (bur-marigold) – photographed in a wetland in the Nebraska Sandhills.
I have several photos of Bidens cernua flowers surrounded by water and/or duckweed.
This is a fisheye lens perspective on a restored wetland in our Platte River Prairies.
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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

5 thoughts on “Photos of the Week – October 23, 2021

  1. I have always thought that Bidens is an overlooked native. It would be spectacular in a rain garden. If it just wasn’t for their super effective seed dispersal system!

  2. I love your posts. I’ll have to look up the word riparian – thank you for that! I’m teaching a new grade level and they had to learn about seed dispersal. I’ll share this post with them!
    Happy Days to you and yours!


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