IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

Comprehensive Description

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This native perennial plant is 1½–3' tall and largely unbranched, except for several flowering stems toward the apex. The stems are covered with long white hairs. The alternate compound leaves are trifoliate. Each compound leaf has a short hairy petiole with a pair of narrow stipules about 1/10" long at its base. The individual leaflets are up to 2" long and 1½" across. They are oval, oval-orbiculate, or obovate, and have smooth margins. Their upper surface is finely pubescent, while their lower surface is softly hairy. The upper stems terminate in rather short spike-like racemes of flowers about 1-3" long. The hairy flowering stalks (peduncles) are often longer than either the leaflets or the inflorescence. The spike-like racemes have whorls of flowers that are densely crowded together. Each flower is about 1/3" long and cream-colored, usually with a purple spot at the base. It has a typical pea-like flower structure, consisting of a standard and keel. The calyx lobes are longer than the flowers. They are hairy, narrow, and taper to a sharp point, turning brown with maturity. This species of bush clover rarely produces cleistogamous flowers. The blooming period occurs during the late summer and lasts about 3 weeks. There is no noticeable floral scent. Each flower is replaced by a seedpod that is short, flat-sided, and pubescent, with its outer tip consisting of a short beak. This seedpod is about the same length or shorter than the calyx lobes. The root system consists of a taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.


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

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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