Desmodium canadense

Trefoil in flower and in seed.

Trefoil in flower and in seed.

Also known as Showy Tick Trefoil, this herbaceous perennial plant is about 3′ tall and normally erect, although it sometimes sprawls along the ground. The green central stem has fine white hairs, sometimes turning brown in response to drought. There are usually a few flowering side stems in the upper half of a large mature plant. The compound leaves consist of three leaflets that are greyish green. Each compound leaf has a short petiole with a pair of small deciduous sheaths at its base. The leaflets are 2-3½” long and less than half as wide. They are oblong or lanceolate in overall shape, but rounded at the tips rather than pointed. Their undersides have fine hooked hairs that cling to clothing or the fur of passing animals.

Habitats include moist to mesic black soil prairies, moist meadows along rivers, borders of lakes, thickets, limestone glades, and areas along railroads where prairie remnants occur.


  1. First Flower: Date the first flowers are fully open. When open, you will see the stamens among the unfolded petals.
  2. Full Flower: Date when half or more of the flowers are completely open
  3. First Ripe Fruit: Date when you notice the first fruits becoming fully ripe or seeds dropping naturally from the plant. Ripening is indicated by the berries turning red, yellow, orange, or maroon.
  4. Full Fruiting: Date when half or more of the fruits are completely ripe or seeds are dropping naturally from the plant.
  5. All Leaves Withered: Date when most or all of the leaves that developed this season, have lost green color or are dried and dead.

Information from: and


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