Desmodium floridanum

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Desmodium floridanum
Desmodium floridanum KMR 2011.jpg
Photo taken by Kevin Robertson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae
Genus: Desmodium
Species: D. floridanum
Binomial name
Desmodium floridanum
DESM FLOR dist.jpg
Natural range of Desmodium floridanum from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Florida tick-trefoil

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Meibomia rhombifolia Vail


Generally, the Desmodium genus species are "annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees. Leaves 1-5 foliolate, pinnately 3-foliolate in ours or rarely the uppermost or lowermost 1-foliolate; leaflets entire, usually stipellate; stipules caduceus to persistent, ovate to subulate, foliaceous to setaceous, often striate. Inflorescence terminal and from the upper axils, paniculate or occasionally racemose; pedicel of each papilionaceous flower subtended by a secondary bract or bractlet, the cluster of 1-few flowers subtended by a primary bract. Calyx slightly to conspicuously 2-lipped, the upper lip scarcely bifid, the lower lip 3-dentate; petals pink, roseate, purple, bluish or white; stamens monadelphous or more commonly diadelphous and then 9 and 1. Legume a stipitate loment, the segments 2-many or rarely solitary, usually flattened and densely uncinated-pubescent, separating into 1-seeded, indehiscent segments."[1]

Specifically, the D. floridanum species are"erect perennial; stem to 5 dm tall, mostly uncinatepubescent, occasionally interspersed with pilose trichomes. Leaves mostly 1-foliolate below, 3-foliolate above. Terminal leaflets rhombic to deltoid or ovate, 4-9 cm long, uncinulate puberlent and softly pilose beneath; stipules persistent, lance-ovate to ovate-attenuate, 4-10 mm long; stipels persistent. Inflorescence racemose to paniculate, uncinulate-puberulent; pedicels 4.5-8 mm long. Calyx uncinulate-puberulent and pilose on lobes and upper tube; petals purplish, 6-7.5 mm long; stamens diadelphous. Loment of 3-5 deltoid segments, each 6-7 mm long, 4-5 mm broad, curved on upper suture and broadly rounded below, uncinulate-puberulent on both sides and sutures; stipe 1.5-4 mm long, shorter than the calyx lobes and stamina remnants."[1]





It is found in upland longleaf and shortleaf pine native communities (Ultisols), pine-oak flatwoods, sand pine-oak scrub (Entisols), longleaf and slash pine flatwoods (Spodosols), edges of hardwood forests. It thrives in frequently burned areas. It occurs in open areas and semi-shaded areas. It can occur in areas with recent soil disturbance and old-field pine forests. It occurs on sandy to loamy soils from xeric to moist conditions.[2]

Associated species include Desmodium viridiflorum, D.strictum, D. glabellum, Tephrosia, Eryngium yuccifolium, Aristida, Pluchea , Longleaf pine, slash pine, and turkey oak.[2]


D. floridanum has been observed to flower from April to October with peak inflorescence in July.[3] It fruits from May to October.[2]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by translocation on animal fur or feathers. [4]

Use by animals

D. floridanum is a food source for bobwhite quail.[5] It is a host plant to the velvet bean caterpillar larvae (Anticarsia gemmatalis).[6]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 604-12. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: June 2014. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, R. K. Godfrey, R. Kral, V. Sullivan, J. Wooten, Grady W. Reinert, J. N. Triplett, Jr., John B. Nelson, G. Knight, Gwynn W. Ramsey, Richard Mitchell, A. F. Clewell, C. Jackson, H. Roth, V Craig, Bill Boothe, and Marcia Boothe. States and Counties: Florida: Bay, Citrus, Columbia, Gadsden, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy. Madison, Putnam, Suwannee, and Wakulla. Georgia: Baker, Charlton, McIntosh and Thomas.
  3. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 8 DEC 2016
  4. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  5. Madison, L. A. and R. J. Robel (2001). "Energy Characteristics and Consumption of Several Seeds Recommended for Northern Bobwhite Food Plantings." Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006) 29(4): 1219-1227.
  6. Buschman, L. L., W. H. Whitcomb, et al. (1977). "Winter Survival and Hosts of the Velvetbean Caterpillar in Florida." The Florida Entomologist 60(4): 267-273.