Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is That Your Final Answer?

A few weeks ago, we posted a picture of a mystery wildflower from My Florida Backyard:

Since then, we've come up with two possible answers. One was suggested by a reader (Thanks, Marti B!), while the other comes from our own research. Both seem valid possibilities, so we thought we'd post them both and let you weigh in.

Contestant #1 is Lespedeza striata, known as Common Lespedeza or Japanese Clover. This non-native was brought to the U.S. as a food crop for foraging animals like cattle, but quickly established itself as an invasive weed of lawns and gardens. The picture to the right is from the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide, and it's this picture that makes us a little uncertain about identifying our mystery plant as L. striata - the pattern on the leaves just doesn't look quite right. However, other pictures we've found show very similar-looking flowers, and the size and other characteristics seem right. Click here for more pictures of Contestant #1 from
Contestant #2 is Desmodium triflorum, generally known as Creeping Tick Trefoil. This one is also a non-native, and the picture on the left (from Wikipedia Commons) caught our eye because the flowers seem almost identical to our mystery wildflower, and the leaves also seem like a closer match. Another common Desmodium species in Florida is D. tortuosum (Florida Beggarweed), which serves as a host plant for several kinds of skipper butterflies. We can't find any information to indicate whether D. triflorum can also serve as a host plant..

So, distinguished judges, there are the two contestants. Take a look for yourself, and if you have an opinion, let us know in the comments. And be sure to tune in later this week, when we'll present another mystery plant from My Florida Backyard's very weedy lawn!


  1. I vote for contestant #2, as the leaves more resemble the mystery plant.

  2. It is definitely NOT #1 because the veination in the leaves is all wrong. I guess #2 wins by default!