Mystery Solved: Desmanthus illinoensis

Back in September I found a very strange looking seed bundle:

Desmanthus illinoensis seeds
Desmanthus illinoensis seeds

It formed on a nicely shaped shrub with really attractive leaves. I took a couple of the seeds home and put them into a pot. They sprouted last week but I still had no idea what they were.

The leaves placed it somewhere in the pea family — but — the pea family is huge. I wasn’t even going to go there. haha Then today I accidentally stumbled onto its identity. It is one of the mimosas. This one has white puff ball flowers. The leaves do that nice trick of closing if you touch them.

Some of its common names: bundleflower, prickleweed, prairie mimosa.

The Lady Bird WIldflower site says they are quite uncommon in the Edwards Plateau but frequent in North Central Texas. They don’t like compacted clay or coarse sands.

Here’s a neat bit of synchronicity. I, once again, am overcome with poison ivy welts. Go ahead, laugh. My husband says it is my own fault for doing that weird thing called “going outside.” The worst of it started to clear up and then mysteriously spread to my left eye this morning. I look like a boxer losing the match.

The good news: today I learned the “Pawnees used leaf tea as wash for itching. Hopi used seeds placed in eye for conjunctivitis.”

The seeds are nutritious AND as a member of the pea family it fixes nitrogen into the soil.

But most important for my self-centred concern: maybe the universe is actually showing some freaking compassion for my poor eye. =)

I don’t think I will stick a seed into my eye but I am definitely going to try the leaf tea …

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12 thoughts on “Mystery Solved: Desmanthus illinoensis

  1. OK I read your last two posts in backwards order, so I’m getting to your original announcement of the ivy plague after already wishing you a speedy recovery which feels a little clumsy. That seed pod is a real beauty and I’m happy-happy the tisane has been helping you as your survive your poison ivy exposure.

    Just a note about “not being allergic” to poison ivy. I thought I wasn’t allergic but apparently that isn’t ever true. Everybody becomes reactive after enough exposures – it is merely a matter of time (and dosage). The only way to approach poison ivy is with a thick layer of something between you and the plant, and it should never be burned, as the toxins will travel in the smoke and can significantly irritate airways. That vine is pure misery!

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    1. I had heard that too about people eventually losing their tolerance — that it is a matter of time and exposure. I am sooo paranoid, too. I am pretty sure this latest must have come from accidentally contacting roots underground so I guess I haven’t been paranoid enough. Time to ALWAYS wear gloves. It is so perfectly adapted to Austin too. Does really well in disturbed part shade. If only there were a medical use or something.

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  2. Your seed pod photo is beautiful, I think I would of planted a few seeds too. We do not have poison ivy over here, it sounds awful, I hope the tea works.

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  3. I love the seed case of Desmanthus.As a sort of Mimosa and a member of the Pea family is that Fabaceae or Leguminosae or (Le’ go mi nosy) as I always see it?
    And poison ivy, how exotic. It must be painful I imagine, is it like nettle sting or worse than that? I see your outside is a dangerous place. But we do have nettles. And hornets in the summer house. So we are a tiny bit dangerous. But not very.
    Good luck with the leaf tea.

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    1. I think Fabaceae though some people are looking at using this plant for human feed as it were. The seed contains 38% protein which compares with soy. Thanks for the good wishes, Chloris. =)

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  4. “…that weird thing called “going outside.”” I like that expression. Does he refuse to venture out?

    Too bad about the poison ivy. I am lucky to not be bothered by it. Or, I am lucky to never get into it badly. Good luck with the eye wash.

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    1. He is adorable but very much an indoor cat/person. Every morning you ought to give praise to the universe for not being plagued with a poison ivy allergy. You are VERY lucky.

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