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Yavapai County Native & Naturalized Plants

Desmodium metcalfei - Metcalfe's ticktrefoil

Synonyms: Meibomia metcalfei
Other Common Names: Metcalfe's tick trefoil
Plant Form: Forb

Family: Fabaceae

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Forb Plant Description

Origin: Native   Life Cycle: Perennial   Similar Species: Phaseolus angustissimus
General Desc: Erect plant with trifoliate leaves and a pink pea-like flower. Somewhat uncommon.
Identification notes: Erect stems distinguish this species from Phaseolus angustissimus, which has twining or trailing stems.
Height: 1 to 3-1/3 feet


Habitat Description: Rocky slopes and canyons in grasslands, oak/piƱon-juniper woodlands and riparian forests.
Plant Communities: Interior Chaparral, Semidesert Grasslands, Pinyon Juniper Woodland, Montane Conifer Forest, Riparian
Elevation: 4000 - 6500 feet

Flower Characteristics

Color: Pink, blue or purple     Shape: Irregular in elongated clusters     Tubular: N     Flowering Period: Aug - Oct
Description: Has a pea-like flower with a banner petal, 2 wing petals and 2 fused keel petals. Has 9 united stamens and 1 single stamen.

Leaf and Stem Characteristics

Leaf Color: Green     Leaf Type: Compound     Leaf Shape: Narrow     Leaf Margin: Smooth     Leaf Attachment: Alternate     Leaves Clasp: N
Hairs: Leaves     Spines: N
Leaf Description: Leaves are trifoliate. Leaflets 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 inches long; generally less than 1/2 inch wide; 4 to 5 times longer than wide with the terminal leaflet longest.

Fruit and Seed Characteristics

Fruit Color: Brown   
Fruit Type: Pod
Fruit Notes: Pods somewhat constricted between seeds with 2 to 5 segments per pod, sometimes twisted. Rounded teeth on upper margin, moderately notched below. Surface has fine, stiff, hooked hairs.
Seed Notes: 3 to 10 seeds per pod. Seeds are ovoid to rounded in outline; kidney-shaped. Seed surface smooth. Seeds olive, brown or black.

  Arizona Cooperative Extension
Yavapai County
840 Rodeo Dr #C
Prescott, AZ 86305
(928) 445-6590
Version 7.0  
Last Updated: May 10, 2017  
Content Questions/Comments: Email Jeff Schalau  
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