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Showy Tick Trefoil

Common Name: Showy Tick Trefoil.

Scientific Name: Desmodium Canadense.

What to look for?  Vivid-pink flower spikes sitting atop the end of several branches. The green central stem of the Showy Tick Trefoil has several flowering side stems in the upper half of the plant. Numerous pink flowers in an elongated panicle occur at the end of each upper stem. The flowers are replaced by flat seedpods covered with hooked hairs that can break off and cling to a passing carrier. The root system consists of a long taproot. The Showy Tick Trefoil tends to grow in clumps.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Showy Tick Trefoil plants pop up occasionally around the meadows near Carillon Stonegate Pond and in the restored prairie at Stonegate Park.

How big are they? The Showy Tick Trefoil grows up to three (3) feet. The oblong leaves are approximately two (2) to three (3) inches long and one (1) inch across. The individual flowers are approximately one-eighth of an inch in length.

Where do they grow and thrive? Showy Tick Trefoil is native to Illinois and is found primarily in the central and northern areas of the state. Across the U.S., Showy Tick Trefoil ranges from the Great Plains, Midwest and through the Northeast and up into Canada. This plant is usually found in moist to mesic prairies, moist meadows along rivers, borders of lakes, thickets, limestone glades, and areas along railroads where prairie remnants occur.

When do they bloom? The blooming period occurs during mid-summer and lasts about three (3) weeks.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? The pollen of Showy Tick Trefoil a variety of bees, including bumblebees. Other insects feed on the foliage, seeds, and other parts include the seed-eating larvae of leaf beetles, aphids, moths, skippers, and some butterflies. This plant is highly edible to various animals, including deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and livestock.

Interesting Facts About Showy Tick Trefoil:

  • This is one of the showier Tick Trefoils because of the plentiful flowers and when it occurs in colonies.

  • Showy Tick Trefoil are most similar to the related Illinois Tick Trefoil but has multiple flowering racemes, while Illinois Tick Trefoil only has a single raceme.

  • The genus name, Desmodium, is derived from the Greek meaning "a long branch or chain" and thought to refer to the shape of the seed pods.

  • The species name, canadense, means 'of Canada' where the original type was collected.

For more information on the Showy Tick Trefoil and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, Friends of the Wildflower Garden, and Michigan State University Native Plants.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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