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Panicle Leaf Tick Trefoil

Panicle Leaf Tick Trefoil

Panicle Leaf Tick Trefoil

Desmodium paniculatum, the panicled-leaf ticktrefoil, narrow-leaf tick-trefoil or panicled tickclover, is a perennial herb in the pea family, Fabaceae. Belonging to a nearly cosmopolitan genus, the panicled-leaf ticktrefoil is a common native to Eastern North America, ranging from Quebec to Florida and as far West as Texas, Nebraska, and Ontario.

Leaf

Long-tongued bees collect pollen from the flowers; these relatively uncommon floral visitors include bumblebees (Bombus spp.), leaf-cutting bees (Megachile spp.), and long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.). Other insects feed on the leaves, flowers, and seeds of Desmodium spp. (Tick Trefoils). For example, the caterpillars of several skippers feed on the leaves: Achalarus lyciades (Hoary Edge), Epargyreus clarus (Silver-Spotted Skipper), Thorybes bathyllus (Southern Cloudywing), and Thorybes pylades (Northern Cloudywing). The caterpillars of the butterfly Everes comyntas (Eastern Tailed Blue) also feed on the foliage, while the caterpillars of the butterfly Strymon melinus (Gray Hairstreak) eat the flowers and developing seedpods. Other insect feeders include primitive weevils, leaf beetles, larvae of gall flies, larvae of leaf-blotch miner moths (Gracillariidae), aphids, thrips, and grasshoppers (see the Insect Table for a more complete and detailed listing of these species). The seeds are eaten by some upland gamebirds (Bobwhite Quail, Wild Turkey) and small rodents (White-Footed Mouse, Deer Mouse), while the foliage is readily eaten by White-Tailed Deer and other hoofed mammalian herbivores. The Cottontail Rabbit also consumes the foliage. The sticky seedpods (loments) cling to the fur of animals and the clothing of humans. As a result, the seeds are carried to new locations.

Among different populations of Panicled Tick Trefoil, there is significant variation in the width of the leaflets and the hairiness of the stems and leaflets. Usually, this wildflower has fairly narrow leaflets, hairless to nearly hairless stems, and hairless upper surfaces on the leaflets. It can be distinguished from other species in this genus by considering the following key characteristics: 1) the narrow leaflets are 3-6 times longer than they are across, 2) the petioles of the trifoliate leaves are fairly long (up to 2"), 3) the deciduous stipules of the trifoliate leaves are small and insignificant, and 4) the leaflets are rather long (up to 3�"). Panicled Tick Trefoil is one of the more common species of this genus in Illinois. (Source: www.illinoiswildflowers.info)

 

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