Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Beggar Lice, Beggar's Ticks, Panicled Tick Trefoil, Perplexed Tick Trefoil
Desmodium perplexum

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Desmodium (des-MOH-dee-um) (Info)
Species: perplexum (per-PLEKS-um) (Info)

Synonym:Desmodium paniculatum var. dillenii
Synonym:Desmodium dillenii
Synonym:Meibomia dillenii


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By creekwalker
Thumbnail #1 of Desmodium perplexum by creekwalker

By creekwalker
Thumbnail #2 of Desmodium perplexum by creekwalker

By creekwalker
Thumbnail #3 of Desmodium perplexum by creekwalker


No positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral creekwalker On Feb 17, 2009, creekwalker from Benton County, MO (Zone 5a) wrote:

From the Illinois Wildflower site:

"This Tick Trefoil species can produce large panicles of small flowers that are rather showy. It is one of the Desmodium spp. that blooms later in the year than many others. Unfortunately, it has been re-classified by taxonomists on several occasions, which may be the reason for the 'perplexum' in its scientific name. In some older sources of information, this plant is referred to as Desmodium dillenii and Desmodium glabellum. However, Desmodium glabellum is now considered a separate species with an appearance that is quite similar to Perplexing Tick Trefoil, while Desmodium dillenii is considered a defunct classification. Presumably, Desmodium perplexum and Desmodium glabellum can be distinguished as follows: 1) the former species has a faint reticulated network of veins on the lower surface of the leaflets, while the latter has a strong reticulated network of veins, and 2) the former species has hairs on the stems and leaves that are straight or somewhat curved, while the latter has hooked hairs. Other distinguishing features for Perplexing Tick Trefoil include inconspicuous stipules that are very narrow and deciduous (i.e., they wither away quickly), and petioles of the compound leaves that are at least " in length."


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Cole Camp, Missouri

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