Desmodium glutinosum (Pointed-leaf Tick-trefoil)

Plant Info
Also known as: Large-flower tickclover
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods, thickets
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 4 feet

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Flowers are scattered on spike-like clusters branching off the top of the main stem. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch long and wide, with a round upper lobe and 3 narrow lower lobes, the middle one folded lengthwise. There is a long curving style and yellow-tipped stamens against the upper lobe. The color is usally pink, occasionally white.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Several long-stemmed compound leaves, grouped in 3's, are just below the flower clusters, alternately attached but nearly whorled. Leaflets are up to 5 inches long, 3½ inches wide, sparsely hairy, oval to tear drop shaped with a sharply pointed tip. The end leaf is largest and much broader than the side leaflets. The main stem may be sparsely covered in spreading hairs, and somewhat sticky.


[photo of fruit] Fruit is a flat pod divided into 1 to 4 rounded or triangular segments, each containing 1 seed. The pod is covered in hooked hairs so it sticks to almost anything that passes by.


Pointed-leaf Tick-trefoil and American Lopseed both have pink spikes and bloom at the same time in about the same habitat, sometimes next to each other. American Lopseed has coarsely toothed leaves oppositely attached, and the upper lobe of the flowers is narrow, turned up.

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More photos

Photos taken at Wild River State Park, Center City, MN and Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Shoreview, MN July 2008


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Susan K
on: 2009-07-11 07:55:06

There are clusters of this plant on the Luce Line Trail. The largest one I have seen on my morning runs is in Orono close to the sign for Woodrill Nature area on the Luce Line. It is currently in bloom and the flowers are small and beautiful.

Posted by: Alison - St. Paul, MN
on: 2010-07-09 10:44:49

This plant can be found in Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul, MN.

Posted by: Amy - Woodbury, Washington County
on: 2010-07-11 22:45:23

In bloom with White Pointed-leaf Tick-treefoil along Wilmes Lake on walking trail near Interlachen Pkwy. in Woodbury.

Posted by: Denise - Rollag Lakes area
on: 2010-07-25 14:48:50

We have been trying to identify this plant for a long time. Thank you for this great website! This plant has increasingly been acting like an invasive species in our woods. This year the plants are huge and thick. The pretty pinkish flowers give way to seeds that stick to everything. Our smaller more delicate woodland flowers hardly have a prayer.

Posted by: Linda - Washington County
on: 2011-07-07 16:43:36

This plant is currently in bloom in many spots in Sunfish Lake Regional Park.

Posted by: Kara - Credit River Township (Scott County)
on: 2012-06-23 14:20:30

I have this plant blooming along my woodland edges. It is quite pretty and glad I finally discovered a native flower instead of an invasive species.

Posted by: bruce - minnetonka
on: 2014-07-13 11:36:36

I found two of these next to each other on my wooded lot in partly shaded area.

Posted by: Jackie - Washington County
on: 2014-07-26 10:28:44

This plant is in bloom in a shady area on our property in West Lakeland Township.

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