Desmodium canum

Common Names: Tick Trefoil, Wild Granite

Family: Fabaceae

Habit: Desmodium canum is a perennial herb becoming woody at its base with age, growing along the ground or becoming somewhat shrub like to 2 meters in length/height. The vegetative portions of the plant are covered in pilose or ciliate pubescence.  The trifoliate leaves are arranged alternately and are to 4 cm in length. The leaflets are variable in shape (from elliptic to lanceolate), and the leaf apex acute to rounded, with an entire margin. At the base of each leaflet there are two linear bracts.

The complete, perfect, zygomorphic flowers are arranged in terminal racemes. The calyx has 5 fused sepals.  The corolla has 5 pink petals.  The lower 2 petals are fused into a keel and the upper is enlarged to form a standard. The superior ovary has a single locule.  The fruit is a legume at maturity that is highly constricted between the seeds and is considered a loment.

Habitat: Desmodium canum is a weedy species growing in human-disturbed environments such as yards and abandoned fields. D. canum also grows in Pine Woodlands and Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formation – Woodlands (open scrublands).

Distribution: Desmodium canum occurs on all island groupings within the Lucayan Archipelago as well as tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Desmodium canum is used in the Lucayan Archipelago medicinally for strengthening teas.  Other species in the Caribbean region are used in bath water.