Desmodium canadense (Showy Tick-trefoil)
|Also known as:||Hoary Tick-trefoil, Canada Tick-clover|
|Habitat:||sun; average to moist sandy or rocky soil; prairies, along shores, along roads, railroads, open woods|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||2 to 6 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FAC|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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1 or more spike-like racemes, usually densely packed, of stalked flowers at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils. Flowers are pea-shaped, about ½ inch long, pink to purple with 2 yellow spots near the base of the broad upper lobe. The stamens and pistil form a curving tube that protrudes from the center. The calyx behind the flower and the short flower stalk are reddish green and hairy.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in 3s, alternately attached, long-stalked near the base becoming shorter stalked as they ascend the stem. Leaflets are hairy, to 3 inches long and 1 inch wide with a rounded or slightly tapering base and blunt point at the tip. The 2 lateral leaflets are short-stalked to nearly stalkless, the end leaflet longer stalked. Stems are unbranched except in the flower clusters, ridged, rough with spreading hairs, and erect to ascending or sometimes sprawling.
Fruit is a flat pod 1 to 2½ inches long with 3 to 5 sections, the sections convex on the upper edge and well rounded on the lower, and each containing a single seed. The pod is densely covered in tiny hooked hairs that latch onto anything that passes by.
Showy Tick-trefoil tends to grow in clumps. The leaves and flowers are similar to the related Illinois Tick-trefoil (Desmodium illinoense), which typically has a single raceme with more widely spaced flowers, has hooked hairs on the stem, pod with up to 9 sections that are well rounded on both edges, and leaflets with prominent veins on the underside.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County,and Wild River State Park, Chisago County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
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