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Illinois Tick-clover

Photo by David Welfelt

Common Name: Illinois Tick-clover

Scientific Name: Desmodium illinoense

Family: Bean

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 3 - 5 feet

Bloom Period: July


Description: Stems are upright and glandular hairy. Leaves have three lance-shaped leaflets with undersides of hooked hairs and a conspicuous network of veins. Flowers are pea-shaped, pink fading to purple and borne on a tall stalk above the leaves.

Comments: The nearly round, flat, brown seed pods are tick-size and have hooked hairs that cling to clothing or fur, giving the plant the name “tick-clover.” The “ticks” pictured are Hoary Tick-clover found in open woods and prairies. There are six similar species of tick-clover common in the Flint Hills. The seeds are food for upland game birds, and the plants are eaten by livestock. The deep roots add nitrogen to the soil. Illinois Tick-clover is found in upland prairies in the eastern half of Kansas.

Photo by Nancy Goulden