Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Prairie Mimosa, Illinois Bundleflower, Spider Bean
Desmanthus illinoensis

Family: Mimosaceae
Genus: Desmanthus (des-MAN-thus) (Info)
Species: illinoensis (il-lin-oh-EN-sis) (Info)

Synonym:Acuan illinoense
Synonym:Mimosa illinoensis

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

15 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

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)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

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

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

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By htop
Thumbnail #1 of Desmanthus illinoensis by htop

By htop
Thumbnail #2 of Desmanthus illinoensis by htop

By DiOhio
Thumbnail #3 of Desmanthus illinoensis by DiOhio

By DiOhio
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By frostweed
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Thumbnail #7 of Desmanthus illinoensis by frostweed

There are a total of 10 photos.
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1 positive
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral rkruvand On Apr 23, 2007, rkruvand from Huntsville, AL (Zone 7a) wrote:

Health hazards: There are no known documented cases of adverse reactions to the consumption of Desmanthus illinoensis foliage, however other plant parts are to be considered poisonous due to the high alkaloid content.

Legal status: The plant itself is not named as a controlled botanical. N,N-DMT which is contained in significant quantities in the root bark is considered a schedule-1 substance by the DEA.

Neutral tcfromky On Oct 11, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Illinois bundleflower has be found to contain compounds which have antibacterial properties. The Pawnee Indians used a wash prepared from the boiled leaves to treat itch. It is very high in protein making it valuable as a forage for all classes of livestock.

Positive htop On Jan 3, 2004, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

San Antonio, Tx.
The prairie mimosa is a herbaceous perennial which natively ranges from Ohio to Colorado, Florida, Texas, and New Mexico. Having fine mimosa-like foliage and strongly angled, smooth, woody, erect stems which branch from the base of the plant, it grows up to 6 feet wide and tall. It prefers full sun (tolerates partial sun) and moist to average conditions, although some drought is tolerated. In fact, it ranges from dry rocky areas to damp banks. Growth is best in fertile loam, but it adapts well to other types of soil. Containing beneficial nitrogen fixating bacteria in its deep tap root and side roots, it will grow in poor soils. Because it fixes high amounts of nitrogen in the soil, it is employed to rejuvenate worn-out soil. Due to its fast root growth and the fact that it rejuvenates the soil so that other plants can prosper, it is an excellent erosion control plant. It is often used in rangeland revegetation programs. Diseases are seldom a problem.

The spherical flower buds appear on 1 1/4 inches long axillary flower stalks, are yellow-green and are attractive themselves. Each solitary ball-like 1/2 - 1 inch in diameter bloom head is composed of between 30 to 50 white, creamy or greenish colored 5 petaled, 5 stamened tightly clustered minute flowers. The yellowish stamens protrude from the globular flower head and the flowers point in all directions giving the appearance of a starburst which is not as airy looking as other mimosa blooms. The blooms are not scented. What makes the plant so interesting looking is that there are green flower buds, white flower heads and brownish spent flower heads occuring on the plant all at the same time.

Also, green seedpods along with mature reddish-brown to brown seedpods add interest as well. The seedpods contain hard, flat, brown, ovate to 3-sided seeds. The seeds must be scarified (rub them between two sheets of medium grit sandpaper) and soaked. They germinate within 1 to 2 weeks. The plants can be grown in containers; however, because of their tape roots and need for a large root area, they perform better in the ground.

The seeds are well liked by gamebirds, including the ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite, and greater prairie chicken. Mammalian herbivores munch on the leaves and eat the seedpods which have a high protein content. Often it is planted in pastures to feed cattle and other livestock. It is classed as is an important native legume and it produces abundant, nutritious hay.

Although some consider the blooms not showy enough to include in a cultivated garden and only recommend that they be included in native and naturalistic plantings, I find them quite attracive. Robert and Subin, the owners of the plant I photograhed, eat the green seedpods raw in salads or just by themselves because of their nutritional value. I have not tried them myself, so I do not know how they taste.


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

Highgrove, California
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio
Loveland, Ohio
Arlington, Texas
Austin, Texas
Beaumont, Texas
Dallas, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Santa Fe, Texas
Madison, Wisconsin

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