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Desmodium illinoense (Illinois ticktrefoil)
Anderson, Beth

Desmodium illinoense

Desmodium illinoense A. Gray

Illinois Ticktrefoil, Illinois Tick-trefoil

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Meibomia illinoensis

USDA Symbol: DEIL2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Usually 3 ft., but can become taller in favorable conditions. Spindly stems may be erect or trailing. Leaves are pinnately three-parted. A tall, spindly, hairy stem topped with a slender, elongated cluster of many white, purple, or lavender-pink pea flowers. Small, pea-like, pink to purple flowers. Flattened seedpods are covered with tiny, hooked hairs that cling to fur and clothing.

A showy plant when in flower, this species develops long fruits with segments that separate and attach themselves to clothing, thereby promoting seed dispersal.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall, often shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Occasionally white.


USA: AR , IA , IL , IN , KS , MI , MN , MO , NE , OH , OK , SD , TX , WI
Canada: ON
Native Distribution: OH, s. MI, s.e. MN & s.e. SD, s. to e. TX
Native Habitat: Mesic to moist fields; prairie ravines; hillsides; open woods; roadsides

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Rich, moist soils

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Sow untreated or cold-moist stratified seed. All legume seed should be inoculated.
Seed Treatment: Mix seeds with equal amounts of moist sand and refrigerate in sealed bag 10 days.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Web Reference

Webref 26 - Minnesota Wildflowers: a field guide to the flora of Minnesota (2009)
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Desmodium illinoense in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Desmodium illinoense in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Desmodium illinoense


Record Modified: 2023-02-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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