Desmodium marilandicum

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Desmodium marilandicum
Desm mari.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. marilandicum
Binomial name
Desmodium marilandicum
(L.) DC.
DESM MARI dist.jpg
Natural range of Desmodium marilandicum from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Smooth small-leaf tick-trefoil

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Meibomia marilandica (Linnaeus) Kuntze


Generally, for 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. marilandicum species, they are "erect perennial; stems 0.6-1.5 m tall, glabrous or sparsely uncinulate-puberulent and short-pubescent, but never pilose. Terminal leaflets ovate to suborbicular or oblong to elliptic, 1-2.5 (5) cm long, usually 1.6-2.2 as long as wide, both surfaces glabrous to moderately short-pubescent especially on the calyx lobes; petals purplish, 4-6 mm long; stamens diadelphous. Loment of 1-3 weekly obovate segments, each 3.5-5.5 mm long, 3-4 mm broad, slightly convex to almost straight along the upper suture; stipe 1.5-2.5 mm long, equaling or shorter than the calyx and exceeded by the stamina remnants." [1]




Habitats include pine-oak-hickory woodlands, open, upland pine, dry ridges, and sandhills. Can occur in disturbed areas such as woodlands bordering the road, clearing in a live-oak woodland, clearing between pineland and field, edge of mixed woods around a campground, sterile hillside, and abandoned fields. Requires semi-shaded to open areas. Grows in loamy sand and clayey soil types.[2]


It has been observed flowering from August through October with peak inflorescence in October; and fruiting from September through November.[2] The fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe.[3]

Seed dispersal

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

Fire ecology

It can withstand areas with annual burns and winter burns.[2]


A short tongued bee Calliopsis andreniformis has been observed on D. marilandicum.[5]

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. 604-10. 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, V. Sullivan, J. Wooten, A. F. Clewell, R. Kral, R. Komarek, T. MacClendon, - Boothes; K. Blum, Norlan C. Henderson, John W. Thieret, H. R. Reed, Delzie Demaree, A. C. Mathews, A. E. Radford, G. W. Parmelee, and H. A. Wahl. States and Counties: Alabama: Cleburne, Franklin, and Russell. Arkansas: Drew. Florida: Jackson and Leon. Georgia: Baker and Decatur. Indiana: Elkhart. Louisiana: Morehouse and Natchitoches. Michigan: Barry. Mississippi: Pearl River. Missouri: Henry. North Carolina: Orange and Surry. Pennsylvania: Venango. Virginia: Montgomery.
  3. [[1]]Accessed: April 21, 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. [[2]]Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed: April 21, 2016