Desmodium glutinosum (Pointed-leaf Tick-trefoil)
|Also known as:
|part shade, shade; woods, thickets
|June - August
|1 to 4 feet
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Clusters of stalked flowers at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils, each cluster branched or not, the flowers in pairs and loosely arranged on the stem. Flowers are about ¼ inch long and wide, with a round upper lobe and 3 narrow lower lobes, the middle one folded lengthwise. Hugging the inside of the upper lobe are a long curving white style and yellow-tipped stamens. Flower color is pink, occasionally white. The calyx and flower stalk are typically red and sparsely glandular hairy.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in 3s, just below the flower clusters, alternately attached but often crowded and nearly whorled. Leaflets are up to 5 inches long, 3½ inches wide, sparsely hairy, oval to teardrop shaped with a sharply pointed tip. The terminal leaf is largest and much broader than the lateral leaflets, sometimes wider than long. Stems are erect to ascending, unbranched, may be sparsely covered in spreading hairs, and are somewhat sticky from glandular hairs.
Pointed-leaf Tick-trefoil and American Lopseed (Phryma leptostachya) are both common woodland species, have loosely arranged racemes of tiny pink flowers and bloom at the same time in about the same habitat, sometimes next to each other. American Lopseed has coarsely toothed, simple leaves oppositely attached, the upper lobe of the flowers is narrow, turned up, and the fruit is a seed than points down and hugs the stem. Also similar is the related (and very rare) Naked-flower Tick-trefoil (Desmodium nudiflorum or Hylodesmum nudiflorum), which has terminal leaflets longer than broad and not as sharply pointed, pod segments more triangular in shape, and the flowering stem is completely separated from the leafy stems. Some references have renamed Desmodium glutinosum to Hylodesmum glutinosum; this name is not currently recognized in Minnesota but may be in the future.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Wild River State Park, Chisago County, and in Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
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