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Page 198 ï~~198 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST Vol. 44 DESMANTHUS ILLINOENSIS (MIMOSACEAE) IN WISCONSIN Thomas L. Eddy 426 Walker Avenue Green Lake, Wisconsin 54941 firstname.lastname@example.org Desmanthus illinoensis (Michaux) MacMillan ex B. L. Robinson & Fernald (Mimosaceae) is a warm season herbaceous/suffruticose perennial that is native throughout much of central and southeastern United States. Common names include "prairie mimosa" and "Illinois or prairie bundleflower." "Bundleflower" is a translation of the Greek roots of the generic name, and has the earmarks of a contrived "common name." Desmanthus illinoensis flowers in long peduncled axillary heads from May through September. While the white to greenish-white flowers are not particularly showy, the flat, curved seedpods form a cluster about one inch in diameter, usually attracting the notice of collectors (Figure 1). The leaves, which are bipinnate and nearly sessile, fold in strong sunlight or when handled. The plant is taprooted with single or clustered stems to one(+) meter in height. The USDA plants database reports D. illinoensis for 29 states. The species is known from North and South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa; thus, it clearly is capable of flowering and fruiting far north of its core range, which is roughly Illinois to Nebraska, south to the Rio Grande and the Gulf of Mexico. It also occurs in the western U.S. in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada. In Minnesota, D. illinoensis is listed as a state "special concern" species (Minnesota DNR, 1996), while in North Dakota it is a "threatened species" (USGS, n.d.). With the increasing popularity of prairie restorations and land reclamations, it appears likely that the species will spread, although it recovers poorly from grassfires (Hilty, n.d.). Its seeds are widely available commercially, for example, at Native American Seed (www.nas.com), where seeds are offered at $12 per pound. Owing to its high protein content, D. illinoensis is planted in pastures to feed cattle and enrich soil via nitrogen fixation. Although the plant is regarded as an important range indicator species, D. illinoensis favors disturbances and under suitable conditions can become weedy, being reported as "invasive" in certain parts of its range (Southern Weed Science Society, 1998). In 1983 the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and its cooperators made available a cultivar, allegedly D. illinoensis, named 'Sabine' that originated near Crystal Beach, Texas (USDA, 2004). The plant "is widely adapted and is found growing on most range sites. 'Sabine' is useful in range and pasture mixes, for wildlife food and shelter, beautification, and in reclamation plantings. 'Sabine' has potential for erosion control through stimulated growth of grass
Page 199 ï~~2005 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST 199 2005 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST 199 Figure 1. Desmanthus illinoensis in fruit, near Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa, August, 1979; photo courtesy of Thomas G. Lammers. species by nitrogen fixation" (USDA, 2004). Moreover, D. illinoensis has been evaluated by the Land Institute of Salina, Kansas, as an edible legume for growing with perennial grains in a non-tillage permaculture system (Kulakow et al., 1990). The species is not ascribed to Wisconsin by Fassett (1939), Luckow (1993), Isely (1998), nor by Wetter et al. (2001). Previously, the sole record for Wisconsin was a sterile specimen in WIS collected in 1968 from a flowerbed that was once the site of an old barn in Ridgeville Township, Monroe County. Presumably, the voucher specimen is from an adventive introduction. To this may now be added a new record from northeastern Wisconsin: "Wisconsin. Winnebago County. An isolated plant, no others to be found, in a 17-acre artificial prairie planting on the McDermott and Harrison property, north side of Lone Elm Road, section 32, T17N, R16E. The land was plowed and disked and seeded to an array of native prairie plants in 2001. The land had previously been hayfield and cornfield. The seed of this plant may well have been present as a contaminant in one of the purchased seed lots. Colleen McDermott, 9 September 2005, accession no. 112,295, OSH." The McDermott specimen is abundantly in fruit, the legumes plump with apparently viable seed. It appears the species is self-compatible, as one would expect in a colonizing species. Luckow (1993) reports a broad ecological amplitude for D. illinoensis, including along railroad tracks and other such ruderal sites. Since the plant thrives in a variety of soil types, is drought resistant, and is able to survive harsh winters (hardiness zone 4), coupled with the fact that D. illinoensis is readily available commercially, more Wisconsin records for the plant can be anticipated.
Page 200 ï~~200 THE MICHIGAN BOTANIST Vol. 44 LITERATURE CITED Fassett, N. C. 1939 (verbatim reprint, 1961). The Leguminous Plants of Wisconsin. University of Wisconsin Press. Hilty, J. (n.d.). Illinois bundleflower. Retrieved 27 December 2005, from Illinois Wildflowers Web site: http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/il_bundleflowerx.htm. Isely, D. 1998. Native and Naturalized Leguminosae (Fabaceae) of the United States (exclusive of Alaska and Hawaii). Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602. Kulakow, P.A., L.L. Benson, & J. G. Vail. 1990. Prospects for Domesticating Illinois Bundleflower. Pp. 168-171. In J. Janick and J.E. Simon (ed.) Advances in New Crops. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon. Luckow, M. 1993. Monograph of Desmanthus (Leguminosae-Mimosoideae). Systematic Botany Monographs 38: 1-166. Minnesota DNR. (1996). Retrieved 27 December 2005, from Endangered, threatened & special concern species Web site: http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/naturalresources/ets/endlist.pdf. Southern Weed Science Society. 1998. Weeds of the United States and Canada. CD-ROM. Southern Weed Science Society. Champaign, IL. USDA. (n.d.). Plants profile. Retrieved 22 December 2005, from www.plants.usda.gov. USDA. February 2002. Improved Conservation Plant Materials Released by NRCS and Cooperators Through September 2001 (PDF document). Retrieved 22 December 2005, from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Web site: http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/ mdpmcpureleases2001l.pdf. USDA. 2004. Celebrating 40 Years-Knox City Plant Materials Center (PDF document). Retrieved 22 December 2005, from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Web site: http://plantmaterials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/txpmcbr5728.pdf. USGS. (n.d.). The Rare Ones. Retrieved 27 December 2005, from Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Web site: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/wildlife/rareone/grasslnd.htm. Wetter, M., T. S. Cochrane, M. R. Black, H. H. Iltis, & P. E. Berry. 2001. Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Wisconsin. Technical Bulletin No. 192, Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin 53707 and University of Wisconsin-Madison Herbarium, Department of Botany, Madison, Wisconsin 53706. Wisconsin State Herbarium (WIS), (n.d.). Wisflora-vascular plant species. Retrieved 22 December 2005, http://www.botany.wisc.edu/wisflora