Spanish Needles

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Spanish needles Bidens pilosa, a herb of the daisy family which grows in warm regions worldwide; it is also known as cobbler’s pegs, because of the shape of the flower, or as margarita. The barbed projections on the fruits, which catch readily in clothing and constitute an efficient means of distribution, are the ‘needles’ of the most common name.

The young leaves are cooked like spinach in some places, especially Africa and parts of SE Asia (e.g. Java). Generally, however, it is regarded as a tiresome and stubborn weed.