About Illinois Tick Trefoil: This nitrogen-fixing native legume is a crucial food source for wild birds such as northern bobwhites, ruffed grouse, and wild turkeys. It also acts as a larval host for numerous butterflies including eastern tailed blue and silver spotted skipper. This plant’s genus name Desmodium means “long chain,” a reference to the unique segmented seed pods of this plant. The common names “Beggar’s Lice” and “Stick Tights” are derived from the tendency of the seed pods to stick to everything they touch.
Illinois Tick Trefoil Germination: Before planting, pour 180 degrees F water over the seed and let it soak overnight. Direct sow the treated seed ¼” deep in a firmly compacted seed bed. In cold regions this seed can also be planted in the fall, if sown late enough that the low temperatures delay germination until the spring. This plants adapts to most types of soil.
Growing Illinois Tick Trefoil Seeds: Water seedlings until they become established. Mature plants can tolerate drought, though they appreciate occasional watering in especially dry periods. Keep weeds under control for the healthiest plant growth. This plant does not self-seed heavily. The foliage is susceptible to powdery mildew; watch out for insect pests, especially Japanese beetles, which will also damage the plant. This plant attracts bees.
Harvesting Illinois Tick Trefoil: For fresh flowers, cut long stems of flowers that have just opened and place them in water immediately; strip the leaves that will fall below the water.
Saving Illinois Tick Trefoil Seeds: After flowering, this plant will produce distinctive “chains” of velvety seed pods that have a natural stickiness. Remove the pods as soon as they achieve their mature light brown color. The sticky pods make cleaning the seed rather difficult, but they can be planted just as they are after being soaked overnight in hot water to soften the pod and speed germination. Store the pods in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Illinois Tick Trefoil Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Beggar’s Lice, Stick Tights Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer Height: 48-60 inches Spacing: 24-36 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Dry USDA Zone: 4a-7b Seeds Per Oz: 4,300 Produces a plant with sets of three 3” green leaflets and sparsely flowering spikes with ½” pale purple and white blossoms.