Desmodium laevigatum

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Desmodium laevigatum
Desmodium laevigatum 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. laevigatum
Binomial name
Desmodium laevigatum
(Nutt.) DC.
DESM LAEV dist.jpg
Natural range of Desmodium laevigatum from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Smooth tick-trefoil

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Meibomia laevigata (Nuttall) Kuntze


Generally for the Desmodium genus, they 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, for D. laevigatum species, they are "erect perennial; stems 0.5-1.2 m tall, glabrous to sparsely and inconspicuously uncinulate-puberulent. Terminal leaflets ovate to elliptic-ovate or elliptic-oblong, (3) 4-7 (9) cm long, glabrous to very sparsely puberulent above, glabrous to puberulent or sparsely short-pilose, often glaucous beneath with the trichomes largely restricted to the principal veins; stipules caduceus, lance-attenuate, 5-8 mm long; stipels persistent. Inflorescence usually paniculate, moderately to densely uncinulate-puberulent; pedicels mostly 7-19 mm long. Calyx densely puberulent; petals pink or roseate to purple, 8-10 mm long; stamens diadelphous. Loment of 2-5 subrhombic segments, each about 5-8 mm long, 3.5-5 mm broad, with a straight or slightly convex upper suture and an abruptly angled lower suture, with densely uncinulate sutures; stipe ca. 4.5-6.5 mm longer, much longer than the calyx tube but often equaling or even exceeding the calyx lobes, shorter than stamina remnants." [1]




It is found in areas that frequently burn such as open woods bordering a bay, hardwood hammocks, upland pine, in open mixed pine-hardwood forest, well drained upland, savannas, turkey oak sand ridges. Requires low-high light levels. Is associated with loamy sand, sandy clay loam, limestone, and sand soil types.[2]

Associated species include Desmodium ciliare, D. lineatum, D. glabellum.[2]


It has been observed flowering and fruiting from September to November.[2]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by translocation on animal fur or feathers. [3]

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. 604-11. 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, Angus Gholson, A. F. Clewell, V. Sullivan, J. Wooten, R. Kral, R. Komarek, T. MacClendon, - Boothes, Travis MacClendon, Karen MacClendon, Geo. Wilder, Harry E. Ahles, C. R. Bell, H. R. Reed, Delzie Demaree, William B. Fox, and S. G. Boyce. States and Counties: Alabama: Etowah, Franklin, and Lee. Arkansas: Drew. Florida: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa,and Wakulla. Georgia: Baker, Decatur, Grady,and Thomas. Mississippi: Pearl River. North Carolina: Sampson. South Carolina: Beaufort. Virginia: Montgomery.
  3. 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.