Approximately two dozen Tick Trefoils are found in Florida's wilds. This particular common non-native species is a whopper, being tall [six feet or taller] and having large showy pink flower clusters and large trifoliate leaves. The chainlike seedpods will stick to your clothing and hitch a ride. You might want to burn them when you bring them home, otherwise they may pop up as abundant "weeds." Go ahead and touch the stems and you will feel how sticky they are. It is planted in Florida and other countries as a high quality green manure, as it fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and is an easily digestible, "very palatable" goat forage. It is high in protein and so is added to chicken feed. I feel that it should be a listed invasive species here in Florida, and perhaps it will be one day, as I have seen it spread into new areas of Florida over the years. Although the seeds are commercially available here in Florida, I do not encourage you to plant it, due to its invasive nature.
CAUTION:DO NOT INGEST THIS PLANT - AS SOME DESMODIUMS ARE TOXIC.
MEDICINAL USES: DO NOT INGEST THIS PLANT - AS SOME DESMODIUMS ARE TOXIC. Used in Brazilian folk medicine against dandruff. The bark might be used to treat rheumatism (in India?).
NITROGEN FIXER/GREEN MANURE: “Widely cultivated as a nitrogen-enricher.” A high quality green manure / cover crop.
GOAT FORAGE: “Cultivated in Florida for forage. “ It was popularly used for this purpose until the 1950s. “Generally used for green chop or hay in the tropics. Very palatable; a good plant for grazing or hay. Vigorous, recovers rapidly from cutting or grazing and persists well under favorable conditions up to four years. Adapted to a wide range of soils and often volunteers on stubble. Because it is so palatable, it tends to disappear under grazing.” – FAO. A goat fodder in the US, the Caribbean & Cuba. For hay production in Taiwan.
POULTRY FEED: "A protein rich lucerne supplement to poultry feed. "
CAUTION: This species is host to “several insect & viral pests of field crops,” including Soybean Rust.
CULTURE: Gather ripe seed in September/October.
NATIVE TO: The Caribbean.
HABITAT: Roadsides, train tracks, edges of sunny fields, cultivated and disturbed land.
- NATURALIZED: Now introduced and widespread in the tropical world. In the US, it has spread from Texas to South Carolina and southward (widespread across Florida). Considered a troublesome weed in soybean fields of Brazil, peanut fields of the southeastern US, etc. I have noticed that this introduced plant is becoming more common across Florida in recent years. I theorize that it may be placed on Florida’s invasive plants list one day (keeping in mind that each plant may drop 5,000 seeds).
DESCRIPTION: Annual (or short-lived perennial) herb.
- HEIGHT: To 2-10 feet tall.
- STEMS: Stems have sticky hairs (go ahead and touch them, you’ll see).
- LEAVES: Alternate, trifoliate.
- FLOWERS: Pale purple, pea-like.
- SEEDS: Seedpod chainlike, 3 to 7 joints, covered in short, hooked hairs that stick to clothing & fur. Various wild selections grow at very different rates according to writer John Cardina. “The seed catalog of the Southern Regional Plant Introduction Station in Georgia lists more than 40 introductions from 13 countries.”
Fields, Roadsides, Train Tracks
 Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
 CRC World Dictionary of
 Flora of Puerto Rico…
 gardening.eu (lousy)
 jstor (article by John Cardina, …)
 Phytochemical Dictionary of Legum…