Illinois Bundleflower

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Scientific Name

Desmanthus illinoensis

Short Description

Illinois bundleflower is a native warm-season perennial leguminous forb with a unique fern-like appearance.


Illinois bundleflower is a native warm-season perennial leguminous forb adapted to the central and eastern regions of the United States extending from Mexico into Canada.  Illinois bundleflower is found in prairie remnants, sloughs, woodland edges, or disturbed areas.  It does best on medium textured soils, but will grow on a wide range of soills with an annual rainfall range of 16 to 32 inches. The seeds are readily consumed by upland game birds and the plant is highly palatable livestock and deer. Illinois bundleflower is an attractive plant in the landscape because of its unique fern appearance and the closing and opening of the leaves in response to sunlight and heat.

Plant Taxonomy of Illinois Bundleflower

Kingdom Plantae
Subkingdom Tracheobionta
Superdivision Spermatophyta
Division Magnoliophyta
Class Magnoliopsida
Subclass Rosidae 
Order Fabales 
Family Fabaceae 
Genus Desmanthus
Species Desmanthus illinoensis

Plant Characteristics of Illinois Bundleflower

 Height  18 to 48 inches
 Growth habit  multiple stems from a central crown Bloom color
 Bloom color  white globe shaped flowers 
 Bloom period  late spring and early summer
 Sun requirement  full sun
 Leaf foilage color  green fern-like appearance
 Seeds per pound  85,000
 Minimum soil temperature for germination  65 ºF
 Soil pH range  5.5 to 8.0
 Planting Rate  4 oz/1000 or 10 lbs/acre
 Planting Depth   ½ inch
 Planting season  scarified seed: spring; unscarified seed: fall

*Special considerations for spring planting:  seed germination can be improved with mechanical scarification. Seed needs to be inoculated with Rhizobium for nitrogen fixation to occur. Germination of scarified seed generally occurs within 2 weeks after planting provided adequate soil moisture and temperature conditions are met.

Uses of Illinois Bundleflower


Attractive in mass plantings as well as in species mixes.


Seed is a food source; insect attractant and cover for game birds.


Highly palatable and nutritious legume.

Commercially Available Cultivars of Illinois Bundleflower

'Sabine' released by USDA-NRCS, Knox City Plant Material Center, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.

'Reno' germplasm released by the USDA-NRCS, Manhattan Plant Material Center in Manhattan, KS.

Illinois Bundleflower Seedling and Growth Guide

8 days after planting

18 days after planting                                                                 28 days after planting

                        34 days after planting