Weeds of Wednesday: Tag-A-Longs

Delta Dawn, our puppy, was mortified to get covered with the seeds pods of creeping beggarweed (Desmodium incanum) when she visited the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory adjacent to Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area (ORCA). Plants in this genus have developed a quite effective way to hitch-hike their way about.

Zarzabacoa comun is the common name given to this non-native plant by Dr. Richard Wunderlin on his Florida Plant Atlas website. According to this website, twenty-four species in the species Desmodium are found in Florida. Sixteen of these species are native, and one of them is listed as endangered.

The genus name, Desmodium, is derived from the Greek word desmos, which means band or chain and refers to the sticky jointed seed pods. Yes, those damned seed pods are not dislodged from my clothes by a trip through the washing machine and had to be hand-picked from Delta Dog’s hair.

The species name, incanum, means grey or silver colored and refers to the attractive markings on the leaves of this non-native species. Its trifoliate compound leaves are indicative of its family.

Its flowers are lavender (photo above from the Florida Plant Atlas) and belie that this plant belongs to the pea family, Fabaceae. It is found in the hammocks and pine flatwoods at ORCA.

Tag-a-long, Spanish clover, and tick trefoil are other common names for the clever plants in this genus.


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