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Botany for Gardeners: Desmanthus

DesmanthusDes MAN thus: from Greek desmos meaning a bundle and anthos meaning a flower

Desmanthus virgatus flDesmanthus is a genus in the bean family (Leuminosae/Fabaceae) and consists of twenty four species of shrubs and herbaceous plants native to the Americas. It has linear bipinnate leaves that fold up when touched similar to those of Mimosa, to which Desmanthus is related. The white flowers have five petals that are bound together, giving rise to both the generic name, Desmanthus, and the common name “bundleflower”. Three species are of interest as fodder for domestic animals and possibly human food.

Desmanthus illinoiensisIllinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis) also called prairie mimosa, is native to the Midwestern US where it grows in fields, prairies, riverbanks, waste areas, and It grows one to five feet high and produces bundles of thirty to fifty flowers in June on short stems. The flowers have long protruding yellow stamens that give a brush like appearance. The plants like full sun and average, dry to medium, well-drained soil. Because of a high protein content, Illinois bundleflower is considered a valuable range plant.