Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Smooth Small-leaf Tick-trefoil - Desmodium marilandicum   (L.) de Candolle
Members of Fabaceae:
Members of Desmodium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Fabales » Family Fabaceae
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Author(L.) de Candolle
DistributionPresent over all of the mountains, Piedmont, and most of the Coastal Plain, but very rare to absent in the northeastern counties.

This is a wide-ranging Eastern species, occurring from southern New England west to eastern KS, and south to southern FL and eastern TX.
AbundanceFairly common to common in the mountains and Piedmont, and fairly common in the southern two-thirds of the Coastal Plain. Rare in the northeastern portions of the state. Noticeably less common than the similar D. ciliare in most areas.
HabitatThis species grows where most others in the genus occur -- dry to mesic woodland borders, edges, old fields, powerline clearings, and other brushy places.
PhenologyBlooms from June to September, and fruits from August to October.
IdentificationThis is a slender, generally unbranched Desmodium, growing a bit taller than D. ciliare, often to about 2.5-3 feet tall. Like the other species, it has quite small alternate leaves along the stem, with the 3 leaflets being a little larger than that species, close to 4/5-inch long, elliptical, and rounded at the tip. The stem and leaves tend to be glabrous, an important identification character. Also, this species has leaf petioles at least 3/4-inch long, much longer than the nearly sessile leaves on D. ciliare. At the top of the stem grow a number of racemes (or a panicle) of small rosy-pink flowers, though each is only about 1/5-inch long. A few Lespedeza species are similar, especially L. violacea, but they do not have hooked hairs on the pods (that stick to clothing). Though often seen in powerline clearings and on walks along woodland borders, you are normally going to see the similar D. ciliare more often, or before you see the first D. marilandicum.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Maryland Tick-trefoil
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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