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Content tagged with "legume"

Photo of southern wild senna showing flower cluster and compound leaves.

Southern Wild Senna

Southern wild senna bears yellow flowers in short racemes that arise on stems from the leaf axils. They don’t look much like typical pea-family flowers and consist of 5 spreading petals of which 2 are larger than the other 3. The leaves are compound with 8–10 pairs of oblong to oblong-elliptic leaflets.

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Photo of southern wild senna showing a flower cluster and a few leaflets.

Southern Wild Senna

Southern wild senna is usually found at the edges of woods, at bases of slopes, in open fields, and in thickets, generally in moist situations. It is most common south of the Missouri River, but it is sometimes cultivated in gardens as a low-maintenance ornamental for its attractive foliage and flowers and interesting fruits.

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Thunberg’s Lespedeza (Shrub Lespedeza; Pink Bush Clover)

Lespedeza thunbergii
Thunberg’s lespedeza is a large, non-woody perennial shrub often cultivated as a showy, flowering ornamental. It sometimes escapes from cultivation and naturalizes in Missouri landscapes.

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Photo of tick trefoil plant with flowers

Tick Trefoil (Beggar’s Lice)

Those chains of papery, flattened, triangular “sticktights” come from a plant that looks like this when it blooms. Missouri has 20 species of tick trefoils. Species identification is difficult and often depends on close analysis of the seedpods. Tick trefoils are in the pea or bean family, and the pink, violet, or white flowers and 3-divided leaves are typical of that family.

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Photo of tick trefoil plant with flowers

Tick Trefoil (Beggar’s Lice; Beggar’s Ticks)

Desmodium spp. (20 species in Missouri)
Neither “tick trefoil” nor “beggar’s lice” is a noble-sounding name! But considering how the chains of hairy little seedpods stick to your clothing, likening these “sticktights” to parasites seems completely natural!

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Photo of tick trefoil sticktights on denim fabric

Tick Trefoil (Beggar’s Lice; Beggar’s Ticks; Sticktights)

The fruits of tick trefoil plants are a lot like flattened bean pods that, instead of splitting lengthwise, split crosswise, with one bean (seed) for each triangular section. (Carefully pick apart one of these sections, and you’ll discover a tiny, flattened bean inside.) These curious bean pods that split in sections are called "loments" by botanists. In tick trefoils, the loments also stick like Velcro to fabric and fur—“hitchhiking” is how these plants spread their seeds over great distances.

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Photo of white sweet clover flower cluster showing stalk and flowers.

White and Yellow Sweet Clovers

Melilotus albus and M. officinale
These two species of sweet clover are present all over America. Although they have been planted for forage, as bee plants, and as nitrogen-fixers, white and yellow sweet clover are now classified as invasive for their weediness and the problems they pose for natural habitats.

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Photo of white prairie clover flowerhead.

White Prairie Clover

White prairie clover (D. candida) is much like purple prairie clover, only the blossoms are white.

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Photo of white sweet clover flower cluster showing stalk and flowers.

White Sweet Clover

The flowers of white sweet clover, like those of yellow sweet clover, are crowded densely on the top 4 inches of an elongated stem. Each tiny flower is attached to the stem by a minute stalk. Each small pea-like flower produces one or two seeds, and it blooms May through October. Its ability to set thousands of seeds, each of which can stay viable for more than 30 years, is one reason it is invasive.

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Photo of white wild indigo plant with flowering stalk amid prairie grasses

White Wild Indigo

White wild indigo is the tallest species of false indigo in Missouri. It has a robust, striking presence, with white flowers and a shrubby look. Look for it statewide, in prairies and glades and along roadsides, streams, and valleys.

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