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Crooked Run Valley
hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil (Desmodium ciliare)
hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil
hairy smallleaf ticktrefoil
Meibomia ciliaris (Muhl. ex Willd.) S.F. Blake
TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for hairy small-
leaf ticktrefoil is Desmodium ciliare (Muhl. ex Willd.) DC.
There are two varieties of Desmodium ciliare: 1) variety ciliare, and 2) variety lancifolium Fernald & B.G. Schub. (lanceleaf ticktrefoil). Variety lancifolium is recorded from only Virginia. The following definition pertains to variety ciliare, which also occurs in Virginia.
The name of Genus Desmodium originates from Greek meaning "long branch or chain," probably from the shape of the seedpods and the way they attach to clothing and animals.
NATIVE STATUS: Native, United States and Canada.
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:
Habit: Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil is a native, perennial, wildflower that grows up to 3 feet tall. The central stem is green with trifoliate (clover-like), oblong, compound (made up of multiple green leaflets), green leaves proceeding singly up the stem.
Leaves: The leaves of hairy small-leaf ticktrefoi are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets); leaves are alternate with one leaf per node along the stem. The edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes).
Flowers: The showy purple flowers appear in late summer and grow from panicles (flowers arranged on a stem) that mature from the bottom upwards. Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil plants have a single crown.
The flower is bilaterally symmetrical); there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower and four petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower.
Fusion of sepals and petals (sepals) are fused into a cup or tube. There are 10 stament.
Fruit/Seed: In early fall, the flowers produce leguminous seed pods approximately ⅛ inch long. The sticky seedpods cling to the fur of animals and the clothing of humans; as a result, the seeds are carried to new locations.
Roots: Insufficient information.
REGENERATION PROCESS: Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil propogates itself by reseeding.
HABITAT TYPES: Hairy Small-Leaf Ticktrefoil grows in upland habitats such as forests and savannahs. This wildflower is a pioneer species that prefers some disturbance from wildfires, selective logging, and other causes.
SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil grows in partial shade and prefers neutral to slightly acidic soil and fine- to medium- textured soil that are well-drained.
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil blooms from August to October.
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil naturally occurs from Florida north to New York and Massachusetts, and extends west to Texas north to Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Michigan. It also occurs in Ontario, Canada.
SKY MEADOWS DISTRIBUTION: To be determined.
IMPORTANCE AND USES: Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil attracts birds and is a good grazing and browsing plant for livestock. Hairy small-leaf ticktrefoil enriches the soil through nitrogen fixation. Long-tongued bumblebees (Bombus impatiens and Bombus pensylvanicus) collect pollen from the flowers. Other long-tongued bee pollinators include leaf-cutting bees (Megachile brevis brevis, Megachile mendica, and Megachile petulans), and digger bees (Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata). Short-tongued bee pollinators include: sweat bees (Nomia nortoni nortoni) and Campus bees (Calliopsis andreniformis). The caterpillars of several skippers feed on the leaves: hoary edge (Achalarus lyciades), silver-spotted skipper (Epargyreus clarus), southern cloudywing (Thorybes bathyllus), and northern cloudywing (Thorybes pylades). The caterpillars of the butterfly eastern tailed blue (Everes comyntas) also feed on the foliage, while the caterpillars of the butterfly gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) eat the flowers and developing seedpods. Other insect feeders include many kinds of beetles, and some species of thrips, aphids, moth caterpillars, and stinkbugs. The seeds are eaten by some upland game birds (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 Houma Indians of Louisiana used an infusion of the roots in whiskey to treat weakness and cramps.