Bidens alba - also known as Romerillo, Butterfly Needles and Shepherd's Needles - is a weedy plant found abundantly in the Sunshine State. However, it can also be found worldwide. There are more than 40 native species in the United States alone and over 230 across the globe.
At first glance, this plant doesn't look like anything special. In fact, most people see it as a nuisance! A pest to get rid of!
For one thing, it has these little clusters of sticker-burs that instantly cling onto anything they brush against. Your clothes and dogs' fur especially. I'm sure many of us can happily recall those wonderful times when we brushed against a Romerillo and got covered in the annoying little things - and had to spend 20 minutes just picking them all out.
So yeah. At first glance, this seems like just another troublesome 'weed'.
Well, guess what. I have news for you.
This is more than just a weed.
You're looking at me skeptically. Don't try to hide it. I see you over there on your side of the computer, in your little corner of planet earth. You're squinting at the screen right now in major doubt of what I'm about to say.
"How on earth could such a cumbersome plant be beneficial to me?"
Did you know that for centuries, people have been using this weed for both food and medicine?
You didn't? Well, neither did I until several weeks ago when my family visited a local gardener's place and learned quite a bit from him on the topic of wild edibles.
The flowers and tender young leaves and of Bidens alba can be added to salads, and the more mature leaves can be boiled or steamed as a pot herb. A mild tea can be made from the flowers. Some folks have even made wine from them, I hear.
It has a good amount of protein, fiber and beta-carotene. Also possesses a good deal of anti-bacterial and anti-cancer compounds and activity.
It's said to boost the immune system and anti-malarial. It's also antileukemic among other things.
Here are some of the ailments Romerillo has been used to treat medicinally:
- Snake bites
- Colon cancer
- Blood clots
- Bacterial infections
- Urinary tract infections
- Sore throats
- High fever
Native American Seminoles would chew on Romerillo leaves if a sore throat was present. I'm guessing for the other issues one would make a tea from the leaves and flowers and drink it throughout the day. Or, dry it and make it into a powder to consume with other food/drink items. Think adding it to your smoothies, that sort of thing.
"Antineoplasics phytotherapeutical composition based on Bidens alba, has properties that inhibit the growth of neoplasia.The presence of those properties in the extract and also in the fractions of plant have extreme importance in cancer treatment, with the possibility to obtain drugs with less collateral effects and less resistance development of the carcinogenic cells."
Here's a very helpful video from Green Deane at EatTheWeeds.com.
If you want to really get informed on this particular plant you should watch it. Everything you need to know about identifying Romerillo, cautions to take when harvesting, and all the other topics can be found here!
Hope y'all are having a blessed week!