IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This perennial wildflower consists of a short leafy stem (4-12" tall) and a flowering stalk (1½-3' long) that are separated from each other at the base. The leafy stem is erect, light green to reddish green, and short-pubescent; it has 1-2 pseudo-whorls of 3 compound leaves at its apex. The compound leaves are trifoliate with slender petioles about 2-3" long. Individual leaflets are 2-3½" long and 1½-2½" across; they are lanceolate-ovate to oval in shape and their margins are smooth. The upper surface of the leaflets is medium green and short-pubescent to glabrous, while their lower surface is pale green and glabrous. The terminal leaflet of each trifoliate leaf has a slender petiolule (basal stalklet) up to ¾" long, while the lateral leaflets have slender petiolules less than 1/8" long. The erect to ascending flowering stalk is light green to reddish green and short-pubescent; it is usually leafless, although a less common variety of Naked-Flowered Tick Trefoil has 1-2 trifoliate leaves. The upper part of the flowering stalk consists of a raceme or narrow panicle of flowers up to 1' long. The flowers are arranged along the stalk in widely spaced pseudo-whorls. The pedicels of the flowers and lateral branches (if any) are about ½-¾" long.. Individual flowers consist of 5 whitish pink or pale lavender petals, a short tubular calyx with blunt teeth that is greenish red to white, several stamens with white filaments, and a pistil with a single style. The corolla of each flower has a typical pea-like structure consisting of an erect banner, a straight horizontal keel, and a pair of spreading wings. The calyx is short-pubescent and its bottom tooth is larger in size than the others. The blooming period occurs from mid- to late summer for about 1-1½ months. On each plant, only a few flowers are in bloom at the same time and they are not noticeably fragrant. The flowers are replaced by flattened seedpods called 'loments.' The loments usually have 2-3 one-seeded segments (less often, 1 or 4 segments); the upper side of each segment is straight or slightly concave, while the lower side is convex or rhombic. The lateral sides of each loment are covered with short hooked hairs; each loment has a long stipe (about ½" long) at its base and a shorter beak (less than ¼" long) at its tip. Each segment of the loment is about 8 mm. long (a little less than 1/3"). The root system consists of a short broad taproot or caudex. This wildflower reproduces by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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