How to use Cobblers Pegs Bindens pilosa

It’s a hot summer’s day, the kids and the dog come in from playing in the long grass. This time of year its always long, it grows overnight and unless you dedicate your waking hours to it, it always gets away on you.

Their clothes are covered in black spiky needles. They are all over the dog’s legs and chest. Labradoodles are great for not shedding hair but it is almost impossible to get Cobblers Pegs off them. We are going to need the clippers. It’s easy at times like these to feel a particular kind of dislike for this plant. Like you have been the butt of a nasty practical joke.

“Ha ha got you!” You hear the Cobblers Pegs sniggering from the back yard.

Until recently my relationship with this plant was one of veiled contempt. Then I started to research it for a project I am working on and everything changed.

Cobblers Pegs grow all around the world. In the 1970’s the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) promoted Cobblers Pegs as a food staple in Africa due to its ease and speed of growth and cultivation, nutrition, palatability and safety. Cobblers Pegs are rich in iron, zinc, calcium and vitamin A.

Surprisingly there was quite a bit of research on Cobblers Pegs. Recent research on this herb reveals that it is anti-microbial and it can be beneficial in the treatment of malaria, allergies, inflammation, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

Culinary usage

Shoots and leaves can be eaten raw in salad, cooked as a green vegetable and made into sauces. The whole mature plant can be dried or powdered and stored for future use as a tea.

How to use it as food

Salad – Pick 3-6 young leaves or 3 to 6 flowers to add to a salad. Older leaves are very bitter. It has been suggested that due to its high saponin content it should not be consumed raw in large quantities. Nor would you want to consume it in high quantities because it is not particularly pleasant but mixed with other salad greens its not too bad.

Green Smoothie – A small to medium plant 30-60cm can be cut up and added to a green smoothie. All above ground parts can be used except the seeds (due to their lack of palatability)

Cooked greens – 1-2 medium plants (up to 1 meter) can be cut up and cooked as a green vegetable in soups, stir-fries or side dishes.

Teas – Add 1-2 teaspoons (approx. 30g) of dried or powdered herb or ½ cup fresh leaves to a cup of boiling water. Let it infuse for 10-15 minutes and drink. For a stronger medicinal drink you can let it stand overnight and drink it the next day. It can be diluted with water until palatable. You can also add lemon, mint, honey or maple syrup. You can drink ¼ cup (60 mls) – ½ cup (125mls) 3 times a day.

Medicinal usage

Cobbler’s Pegs are used in the treatment of inflammation, cancer and diabetes. They also have antibiotic potential, as they are antibacterial, antifungal and wound healing. It is both sad and ironic that we spend billions each year on the treatment of these diseases while this prolific plant is sitting right under our noses being much maligned as an ‘invasive weed’.

Folk Medicine

B. pilosa has been reported to be useful in the treatment of over 40 disorders. The main systems being:

Gastrointestinal – Stomach-ache, colic, constipation, diarrhoea, dysentery, appendicitis, enteritis, gastritis, intestinal worms, haemorrhoids, stomach ulcers, bacterial infections in the gastrointestinal tract,

Respiratory – Asthma, sore throats, colds, flu, tuberculosis, cough, earaches

Infections – Acute infectious hepatitis, conjunctivitis, renal infections, yellow fever, malaria,

Female reproductive – Menstrual irregularities, period pain, morning sickness

Systemic – Cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammation, arthritis, hypertension

Externally – Cuts, burns, wounds, snake bites, nosebleeds

How to use it as medicine

All parts of the plant have traditionally been used as ingredients in folk medicine, including the leaves, flowers, stems and roots. It is usually prepared as a dry powder or tincture for external use and as a powder, maceration or decoction when used internally.

Harvest the leaves during the growing season and dry the plant for tea.

For use as an antimicrobial use juiced fresh leaves or a fresh plant tincture. Many of the active constituents are soluble in alcohol but not in water.

Fresh Plant Tincture

You can use whole fresh plant including the seeds, leaves, stem, and roots.

You will need:

Bindens pilosa

A jar with a lid that can be screwed on tightly

Enough Vodka to fill your jar

A label to stick on your jar


Sterilize a jar in the dishwasher or by boiling it for 10 minutes.

Roughly chop the Bindens or if in the field pull it apart with your hands.

Fill the jar with freshly picked Biden’s pilsoa. Allow enough room for the plant material to move when shaken.

Fill the jar with vodka.

Screw lid on tightly

Label with: Name of the plant. Date made. Date finished (6-8 weeks from making day), the vodka or alcohol used including the percentage of alcohol.

Store for 6-8 weeks


Pour into an amber coloured glass bottle and cap tightly.

Label with: Name of the plant. Date made, the vodka or alcohol used including the percentage of alcohol.

Store in a cool dry place. The tincture should last several years.

Dose: 45 to 90 drops or 2 – 5 mls in water up to 4 x daily.

Armed with this information I hope you can start to experiment with this incredible plant and get to utilise it for all its amazing healing properties.