Bidens Species, Shepherd's Needles, Butterfly Needles, Romerillo

Bidens alba var. radiata

Family: Asteraceae (ass-ter-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Bidens (BY-denz) (Info)
Species: alba var. radiata
Synonym:Bidens pilosa var. radiata
Synonym:Bidens leucantha
Synonym:Coreopsis leucantha
Synonym:Kerneria pilosa
Synonym:Kernia leucantha



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Blooms repeatedly




Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Alford, Florida

Boca Raton, Florida

Brooksville, Florida

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hollywood, Florida (2 reports)

Jacksonville, Florida

Lady Lake, Florida

Lakeland, Florida

Lecanto, Florida

Leesburg, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Miami, Florida

Sarasota, Florida

Sebring, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Barbourville, Kentucky

Southold, New York

Prosperity, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 2, 2016, tlatoanitzin from tijuana,
Mexico wrote:

Tijuana, Baja California, Mxico.
Some time ago I was sowing coriander seeds, with little success, I got some coriander raised, these plants eventually withered and dried. After that, a plant sprouted from the soil, I supposed it was a coriander plant, so I grabbed some leaves to use them in cooking. But afterwards I noticed it grew taller than a coriander, so I started to suspect it was not coriander, I took the leaves and smelled them, but the scent was neutral. As nothing happened to me, I continued eating the leaves regularly in soups, they have a neutral flavor, I have even eaten the flowers. After that first plant, this species gradually colonized all my yard, it easily propagates, because it yields many seeds which easily stick to your clothes. I have observed many aphids gat... read more


On Nov 1, 2013, gtbabic from The Villages, FL wrote:

Someone else wrote "love/hate". That is perfect. For me, the over-riding "love" features are that small butterflies (skippers, hairstreaks, etc.) absolutely love it, and the plentiful small white flowers are attractive. The flip side is that it really is a weed, found in sandy / poor soil often near drainage ponds. Intentionally planted in a watered garden, it explodes. It flowers from spring through frost; it spreads everywhere, though the seedlings are not hard to pick up; the toothed seeds from which it gets its Latin name stick to any cotton-like fabric and also hurt if they work their way through the clothing. It can grow to 6+ feet but mine seem to prefer spreading sideways. It fills in empty spots in the garden, does not appear to be squeezing out anything else; and as noted the but... read more


On Nov 4, 2012, Gryphon78 from Leesburg, FL wrote:

Talk about a love/hate relationship! Who needs a butterfly garden with these weeds around! Here in Leesburg FL, I have 6 varieties of swallowtails, Zebra LW, Gulf Fritillary, Sulphurs, Skippers, Hairstreaks, Azures, Coppers, Monarchs, White Peacock, Metalmarks etc. My list is 32 species and growing; people are amazed by all the butterflies out here ALL the time. It's pretty rural here with a wide natural canal behind the house, woods across from that, an empty lot next door with woods so there are a lot of micro habitats around. Other than host plants, my butterfly garden is pretty much ignored now because of these weeds. They come up EVERYWHERE by the hundreds! I was constantly pulling these out and had no clue where they were coming from. Last summer I had hurt my back and they got away... read more


On Oct 28, 2011, tabby7 from Alford, FL wrote:

I agree with the positive comments about the bees and butterflies but the "sticking power" of the seeds outweighs the positive.

These little devils will stick in your hair, clothing, pets fur and anything else that comes close to the (often 8' or more) Mama Shepherd's needle plant.
I still let some continue to grow and reproduce because the bees and butterflies are so happy with them.

The moral of this story is that those who garden have big hearts even for the naughty kids.


On Sep 16, 2006, Gina_Rose from Hollywood, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

Although I can't look around w/out seeing these, or step into my backyard without getting it's seeds on some clothing, I would never give up this native for anything. It's easily mowed down, so I keep a section of the yard for these alone, and guess what? When the sun is out, I cannot walk by without seeing at least 2 butterfly species, some small moth-looking things which may also be butterflies, as well as dragonflies and bees! Nothing I have can compare to the appeal that these wildflowers have to insects.
Spanish needles also contain alkaloids which are essential for the sexual maturation of young male butterflies.
Plus, this is like our only real wildflower in SoFla. I've never even come across our state wildflower! :)~


On Apr 29, 2005, JaxFlaGardener from Jacksonville, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

This is the most abundant native plant in my yard. I have THOUSANDS of the seedlings in all areas of full sun to deep shade. It seems that every seed that hits the ground is able to grow! I pull up as many as I can, but l leave some to grow along the back of flower beds since their year-round flowering does provide a nectar source for butterflies at times when nothing else is in bloom. The flower is an attractive, miniature "daisy" and would probably have value as an ornamental if the plant were not so prolific in self-seeding. At the back of the flower beds, it grows to about 4 ft high and blends in nicely with other plants.


On Mar 24, 2005, artcons from Fort Lauderdale, FL (Zone 10b) wrote:

As both noted above, it's a weed and it grows very well and almost everywhere there's moisture.
However in it's favor, during the winter months when there are not many nectar flowers for the butterflies that are around, this plant is in full bloom providing the nectar they need.
I purposly leave my yard unmowed December & January so these weeds will grow and bloom. They are a favorite of the many really small butterflies I get in my yard. I also transplanted three of them next to my Monarch area so the little butterflies would have access to them now that I am mowing again.
This plant is a Florida native.


On Mar 11, 2005, xyris from Sebring, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

This is a major weed in central Florida, and many other areas of the tropics and subtropics. It really loves our sandy soils, and seedlings come up thickly as soon as the soil is disturbed. Left alone and with something to support it, it can easily reach 6 to 8 feet tall in a few months, setting thousands more seeds. I pull thousands of these every year to keep it under control.


On Jan 23, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

On one hand, this plant is great for attracting butterflies and puts on a nice show of blooms. On the other hand, it reseeds VIGOROUSLY. If cultivated, be sure to deadhead reigiously or you'll regret it in ensuing years. A tender perennial usually grown as an annual (or a weed, depending on your perspective.)

Like its relatives, this Bidens disperses seed via seeds that cling to anything brushing against the seedheads.