Tick Trefoil, Beggar-lice, Beggar-ticks, Sticktights

Desmodium canadense

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Desmodium (des-MOH-dee-um) (Info)
Species: canadense (ka-na-DEN-see) (Info)
Synonym:Hedysarum canadense



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade



Bloom Color:




White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall


Unknown - Tell us

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


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

Chicago, Illinois

Yale, Iowa

Benton, Kentucky

Hi Hat, Kentucky

Mc Dowell, Kentucky

Morehead, Kentucky

Taylorsville, Kentucky

Baltimore, Maryland

Cary, North Carolina

Oxford, North Carolina

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Greenville, South Carolina

Johnston, South Carolina

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Liberty Hill, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 9, 2015, Chillybean from Near Central, IA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Unlike some native to US plants, this does not need cold stratification to germinate, just sow in warm soil. It does require a species specific inoculum because this belongs to the legume family. The company I get my seed and plants from provide this with their legume seeds.

I read the negative comments and planted any way. I like wild flowers, want to help native bugs, will eat the edible weeds in my yard... so I have no problem with a plant that was historically in our state. According to the USDA, there is no mention of it being a noxious weed anywhere in the United States.

One thing that almost caused me to pull these is the seedlings look nothing like the mature leaves. Rather, they are round and some are a lighter green. They blended in with the ... read more


On Apr 27, 2012, Ohmeanjean from Buckingham, FL wrote:

Did not plant.PLEASE how do I get rid of them?
They are taking over my yard which has Floratan + what ever the storms has brought us. To many to dig up. Please help with any ideas. Sylvia


On Oct 26, 2011, treeripe from Mount Pleasant, SC wrote:

Beggar lice, as we call this plant, is simply a noxious weed that grows vigourously and will shade almost everything under it's 9'+ canopy! The seed are easily spread, especially on your clothing, where raw cotton can be used to remove them. While they can be controlled with herbicides, the most effective ones are very difficult to use in a garden environment. Maybe in a very confined space they can be controlled, but not in my .5 acre garden. I would no more plant this weed for it's simple little blueish flower than I would use kudzoo for ground cover!


On Oct 13, 2009, Gradinara from Greenville, SC wrote:

This plant also grows in the Upstate of SC. I have several specimens of it in my gardens. Most, I've tried to get rid of, however I've left one in my newest mini flower garden on a trial basis. The flowers are pretty, however the seeds are very annoying. The jury's still out on whether I'll let it stay or not!


On Aug 28, 2006, bluespiral from (Zone 7a) wrote:

Ditto to Melody's note above. We often encounter the flowers on late summer walks on local trails along path edges both in shaded woods and along sunny meadow paths mown by a local horsemen's organization. So, it's a tough but gracefully airy plant with flowers floating on thin wands. It must be pretty deer resistant to flourish among so many deer, here, too.

From the way it grows, I think it would make a great "jack-in-the-box" plant, coming up through maidenhair ferns and edged in front with wild violets. Adding a few of the shade tolerant Aster divaricata in front to extend the season, along with a small "grove" of native deciduous azaleas in back that also flourish around here - Azalea prinophylla (syn. Rhododendron nudiflorum 'rosea') - would make this a 4-season co... read more


On Aug 28, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

I know that some folks don't care for this plant, but it is an attractive little weed that adds pretty color in theLate Summer/ Fall when not much is blooming.

The fuzzy little seed pods stick to socks, clothing and animal fur...sometimes in great numbers.

Songbirds use the seeds for a food source.