Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Desmodium canadense (Showy tick trefoil)
Smith, R.W.

Desmodium canadense

Desmodium canadense (L.) DC.

Showy Tick Trefoil

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Meibomia canadensis

USDA Symbol: deca7

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

Erect, bushy, hairy plant with crowded, elongated terminal clusters of pink or rose-purple pea-like flowers. Showy tick-trefoil is a slender-stemmed, often bushy perennial, 2-6 ft. high. Hundreds of rose-colored, pea-like flowers occur in dense, nodding clusters at the tops of the stems. Velvety hair covers the stems and three-parted, compound leaves. Seedpods cling to animal fur or clothing.

The most showy of the Tick Trefoils is one of some two dozen species distinguished by their leaf and fruit shape. The distinctively jointed fruits, known as loments, break into 1-seeded segments, that stick to clothes and animal fur, thus facilitating seed dispersal.


From the Image Gallery

8 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.
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: CT , DE , IA , IL , IN , KS , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SD , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: N.S. to s. Sask., s. to MD, WV, TN, LA, OK, and n. TX
Native Habitat: Open woods; rocky or sandy prairies; stream banks; roadsides; waste places

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil Description: Moist soils. Indifferent to soil acidity.
Conditions Comments: Highly adaptable, this plant can take over a small garden.


Use Wildlife: Hummingbirds.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Eastern Tailed Blue, Silver-spotted Skipper, Hoary Edge.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Bumble Bees

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

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Silver-spotted Skipper
(Epargyreus clarus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Hoary Edge
(Achalarus lyciades)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Sow untreated, scarified or cold-moist stratified seed in the spring.
Seed Treatment: For cold-moist stratification, mix seeds with equal amounts of moist sand and refrigerate in sealed bag 10 days.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 928 - 100 easy-to-grow native plants for Canadian gardens (2005) Johnson, L.; A. Leyerle
Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2015-04-06
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back