Bidens tripartita (LINN.)
The Water Agrimony, now called the Bur Marigold is an annual flowering
in late summer and autumn, abounding in wet places, such as the margins
of ponds and ditches, and common in England, but rather less so in Scotland.
The root is tapering, with many fibres attached to it. The erect stem grows
about 2 feet high, sometimes more, and is wiry and nearly smooth, angular,
solid and marked with small brown spots, so as to almost give it the dark
purple appearance described by Culpepper.
It is very leafy and the upper portion branches freely from the axils of
the leaves, which are placed opposite one another and are of a dark green
colour 2 to 3 inches in length. All except the uppermost are narrowed into
winged foot-stalks at the bases, which are united together across the stem.
They are smooth and sharp-pointed, with coarsely toothed margins, and are
divided into three segments (hence the specific name of the plant), occasionally
into five, the centre lobe much larger and also often deeply three-cleft.
The uppermost leaves are sometimes found undivided.
The composite flowers are in terminal heads, brownish-yellow in colour and
somewhat drooping, usually without ray florets the disk florets being perfectly
The heads are surrounded by a leafy involucre, the outer leaflets of which,
about eight in number, pointed and spreading, extend much behind the flower-head.
The fruits have four ribs, which terminate in long, spiky projections, or
awns, two of which, as well as the ribs, are armed with reflexed prickles,
causing them to cling to any rough substance they touch, such as the coat
of an animal, thus helping in the dissemination of the seeds.
From these burr-like fruits, the plant has been given the name it now universally
bears. These burrs, when the plant has been growing on the borders of a
fish-pond, have been known to destroy gold fish by adhering to their gills.
The flower-heads smell rather like rosin or cedar when burnt.
Medicinal Action and Uses
This plant was formerly valued for its diuretic and astringent properties,
and was employed in fevers, gravel, stone and bladder and kidney troubles
generally, and was considered also a good stypic and an excellent remedy
for ruptured blood-vessels and bleeding of every description, of benefit
to consumptive patients.