Tom's Blog

Friday, July 11, 2008

Canada trefoil

One of the showier prairie plants is now in flower: Canada trefoil (Desmodium canadense).

Originally, we had a small population of this species along County Highway F, and seeds collected there, as well as seeds obtained from other sources, have been used to plant both prairies and savannas. This species has done well and is now well established throughout. Probably the best population is in the Pocket Prairie, where we usually collect seed for further plantings.

Another species, Illinois trefoil (Desmodium illinoiense), can often be confused with D. canadense. However, D. illinoiense flowers a little later, and has long leaf petioles. When we began restoration, D. illinoiense was more common, and is more widespread today.

Although the flowers are very showy, both species produce annoying burs that stick firmly to clothing. Seed collecting is guaranteed to lead later to a lengthy cleaning project to remove the burs, which stick in long strings.


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