Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This native perennial plant is about 2½–5' tall, branching occasionally and more or less erect. The stems are variably hairy, sometimes having hairs that occur in lines along their length. These hairs are white and either straight or somewhat curved, but not conspicuously hooked. The compound leaves alternate along the stems; they are trifoliate. The petioles of the compound leaves are about ½–1½" in length. At the base of each petiole is a pair of inconspicuous stipules that are deciduous and at least 5 times longer than they are wide. The leaflets are about 1½–3½" long and about half as much across. They are ovate-lanceolate or ovate and have smooth margins. The base of each leaflet is quite rounded. The upper surface of each leaflet is green or dark green, and nearly glabrous or finely pubescent. The lower surface is light green and faintly reticulate. There are usually fine hairs on the lower leaf surface, especially along the major veins, but the amount is variable.  The upper stems terminate in panicles of light pink to purplish pink flowers. The larger panicles can be 1-2' long and have spreading stems that produce numerous flowers. Each flower is about ¼" long. These flowers have a typical structure for members of the Bean family, consisting of a hood and projecting keel. Near the center of each flower is a patch of white that is surrounded by a thin line of purple. The blooming period can occur from mid-summer to early fall, and lasts about a month. There is no floral scent. Each fertilized flower is replaced by a flat loment (a type of seedpod) consisting of 2-5 rounded segments. These loments are about ¾–1½" long and covered with clinging hairs. The root system consists of a taproot and nodule-forming secondary roots. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Perennial, Herbs, Stems woody below, or from woody crown or caudex, Taproot present, Nodules present, Stems erect or ascending, Stems less than 1 m tall, Stems solid, Stems or young twigs sparsely to densely hairy, Stem hairs hispid to villous, Stems hairs pilose or spreading, Leaves alternate, Leaves petiolate, Stipules conspicuous, Stipules setiform, subulate or acicular, Stipules deciduous, Stipules free, Leaves compound, Leaves pinnately 3-foliolate, Leaves odd pinnate, Leaf or leaflet margins entire, Leaflets opposite, Stipels present at base of leaflets, Leaflets 3, Leaves hairy on one or both surfaces, Inflorescences racemes, Inflorescence terminal, Bracts very small, absent or caducous, Bracteoles present, Flowers zygomorphic, Calyx 2- lipped or 2-lobed, Calyx hairy, Petals separate, Corolla papilionaceous, Petals clawed, Petals pinkish to rose, Petals blue, lavander to purple, or violet, Banner petal ovoid or obovate, Wing petals narrow, oblanceolate to oblong, Wing tips obtuse or rounded, Keel tips obtuse or rounded, not beaked, Stamens 9-10, Stamens diadelphous, 9 united, 1 free, Filaments glabrous, Style terete, Fruit a loment, jointed, separating into articles, Fruit unilocular, Fruit indehiscent, Fruit elongate, straight, Fruit exserted from calyx, Fruit compressed between seeds, Fruit hairy, Fruit 3-10 seeded, Seeds ovoid to rounded in outline, Seeds reniform, Seed surface smooth, Seeds olive, brown, or black.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Dr. David Bogler

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Associations

Faunal Associations

Like other Desmodium spp., long-tongued bees are the primary pollinators of the flowers. Typical visitors include bumblebees, Miner bees, and large Leaf-Cutting bees. These insects collect pollen. The caterpillars of the skippers Thorybes pylades (Northern Cloudywing) and Thorybes bathyllus (Southern Cloudywing) feed on the foliage. The seeds are eaten by some upland gamebirds and small rodents, including the Bobwhite, Wild Turkey, and White-Footed Mouse. Mammalian herbivores eat Tick Trefoils readily, including deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and livestock. These mammals help to distribute the seeds as the loments readily cling to their fur. The loments also cling to the clothing of humans.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is partial sun and mesic to slightly dry conditions. This plant usually grows in soil that contains loam, clay-loam, or some kind of rocky material. It does not appear to be affected by powdery mildew to the same extent as Desmodium canadense (Showy Tick Trefoil). Nitrogen is added to the soil through the root nodules. Range & Habitat
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Average rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!