Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cobblers pegs

Here's another edible weed - we have at least 1 million of these on our property - they are a real nuisance the way they stick to clothing.

binomial name :Bidens pilosa
common name : cobblers pegs, farmers friend, beggars ticks, bur marigold

Bi-dens = two toothed fork - shape of burrs on seed
pilosa = hairy

Cobblers pegs - originally a cobbler would travel from village to village and when he was in a particular village he was "pegged" to his work area making/repairing shoes - ie when your clothing are covered in cobblers pegs seeds you are in effect pegged to an area whilst they are tediously removed.

Identification :

It is an annual untidy leggy weed about 0.5 -1m tall. It has compound pinnate leaves in groups of 3 or 5 with serrated margins.
There are small yellow daisy like flowers and the distinctive black seeds that stick to just about anything walking passed due to fine barbs.
It occurs all over my property with the seeds especially attached to my socks!

History and herbal uses:

It probably originally from central/southern America but now widespread, and was probably around before humans evolved.
Bidens pilosa is reportedly the most widely eaten wild plant in africa - leaves are boiled and dried for later use a tea is also made for medicinal use (diarrhoea).
It is used as a medicine in many regions of Africa, Asia and South America, where the leaves and seed are used for a multitude of ailments . For example, Iin Uganda, five different medicinal uses are known: the sap from crushed leaves is used to speed up clotting of blood in fresh wounds; a leaf decoction is used for treating headache, sap from the plant is put in the ear to treat ear infections, a decoction of leaf powder is used to treat kidney problems, and a herbal tea made from the plant is used to decrease flatulence.
Extracts of Bidens pilosa are also used in southern Africa to treat malaria, headaches and hangovers. In the Congo, a concoction made from the whole plant is taken as a poison antidote, or to ease child birth, and to relieve the pain. In Nigeria, the powder or ash from the seed is used as a local anaesthetic and rubbed into cuts.
Chinese medicine also uses this plant both topically and internally for several conditions.


The composition of raw Bidens pilosa leaves per 100 g edible portion is: water 85 g, energy 180 kJ (43 kcal), protein 3.8 g, fat 0.5 g, carbohydrate 8.4 g, fibre 3.9 g, β-carotene 1800 μg.
The active ingredients seem to be polyacetylenes and flavonoids.

What to eat:

The petals, young shoots and young leaves are edible. Young leaves have a strong, tangy taste and can be used in salads, along with the petals.
Older leaves are bitter, so keep to the top two sets of leaves, and young shoots along the leaf axils.
We have only eaten it boiled as a potherb.

Medical reports
( pubmed search results):

An ingredient of Bidens pilosa lowers blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity.
Bidens exhibits quite marked anticancer and anti-pyretic activity.
It has quite potent anti- malarial activity -also in vitro an extract was effective against Herpes simplex.
There is also anti -inflammatory activity in the rat paw model greater than dexamethasone.
An extract has been shown to lower blood pressure and have an anti clotting effect.
Bidens pilosa also lowers beta -lipoprotein and cholesterol.


It has a resinous flavour - it does need blanching- one site recommended 3 times! However it is another weed worth trying, especially, as it is such a nuisance. It certainly is a chemical cocktail like Gotu kola and would have excellent anti-oxidant properties.
Warnings : not much evident, however contact with skin can cause an allergic reaction. The leaves do contain silica -this has been associated with oesophageal cancer - however large amounts would need to be eaten.
I am also a little suspicious of this plant and wonder if it contains pyrrolidizine alkaloids but did not find any evidence on the web for this.
We do not eat it often.

No comments: