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Mr. Smarty Plants - User's comment on nativity of Beggar's Lice from Austin

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Tuesday - May 20, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: User Comments
Title: User's comment on nativity of Beggar's Lice from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I think you were off the mark telling somebody that "beggar's lice" is a Texas native. According to Wikipedia, Torilis arvensis is an invasive species native to Eurasia. Cheers!

ANSWER:

Which Wikipedia were you reading? This Wikipedia refers to Beggar's Lice as the genus Desmodium, of which there are 17 species listed in our Native Plant Database. All of them are native not only to North America but to Texas.

This Wikipedia Torilis arvensis has this desciption of that plant:

"Torilis arvensis is a species of flowering plant in the parsley family known by the common names common hedge parsley and spreading hedge parsley. It is native to parts of Europe and it is known elsewhere, such as North America, as an introduced species and a common weed. It grows in many types of habitat, especially disturbed areas. It is an annual herb producing a slender, branching, rough-haired stem up to a meter in maximum height. The alternately arranged leaves are each divided into several pairs of lance-shaped leaflets up to 6 centimeters long each. The leaflet is divided or deeply cut into segments or teeth. The inflorescence is a wide open compound umbel of flower clusters on long, slender rays. Each flower has five petals which are unequal in size and are white with a pinkish or reddish tinge. Each greenish or pinkish fruit is 3 to 5 millimeters long and is coated in straight or curving prickles."

This article makes no mention of Beggar's Lice. The only previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer with the words "torilis arvensis" in it is this one from 2011. That answer does not mention Beggar's Lice at all, but does have Torelis arvensis listed as:

"Torilis arvensis (Hedge parsley) non-native"

 But wait! There is one more Wikipedia site listing Beggars Lice as Hackelia virginiana (Beggarslice). This USDA Plant Profile Map shows that plant is native to just about all of Midwest and Eastern America and Canada.

What was your question again?

 

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