Over four hundred species of Desmodium are native to tropical areas around the world. This
species can be found around the world but is presumed to be native to Mexico, Central America, South America,
and the Caribbean. Leaves are composed of
three small leaflets with smooth margins. Small, purple, bean-like flowers are
held on spikes at stalk tips. The flowers give rise to small pods that break
apart into triangular segments. Each segment is covered in small barbed hairs
that catch onto fur and clothing. The seeds are dispersed widely by this means.
Despite the annoying fruits that attach to our socks and pants cuffs, the plant
has some value. It has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments. Birds feed
on the seeds. Both livestock and wild animals browse on its leaves.
Light: sun, part shade
Water: well-drained soil, moist soil, drought tolerant
Soil: adaptable to soil types, no other special requirements
In northeast Florida,
this is an introduced weed of lawns, gardens, and disturbed areas. However,
several native species may be found in lawns, fields and woodlands.