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Plants of the UNF Campus

Desmodium incanum - Beggar tick, Stick-tights
Family Fabaceae


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.


See this plant in disturbed areas on the edges of natural woodlands.


Herbaceous plant to about twelve to eighteen inches tall.

Care Instructions:

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.