By Tony Dean
Illinois bundleflower is a premier native forb that can be found in all parts of Texas, although it is less prevalent in the extreme western area. It is one of the “Big Four” of highly desirable native forbs that also includes Maximilian sunflower, bush sunflower and Englemann’s daisy. All of these forbs can be found in North Texas.
This perennial legume grows from a branching woody taproot with several erect stems one to three feet tall. The fern-like leaves are up to four inches long. Flowers are white to greenish powder-puff-like globes, from one-half to one inch diameter. Each plant produces 30 to 50 flowers.
The fruit is a tight cluster of flat, curved seedpods, each pod being three fourths to one and one-quarter inches long, and containing two to six beans. The seedpods are green when growing then turn brown at maturity, with the mature pods splitting to drop the seeds.
The seeds may remain in the cluster for many months, thus extending the wildlife food value of the plant. Illinois bundleflower is highly desired by all classes of livestock, thus it decreases in abundance on grazing lands that are heavily grazed.
Crude protein of the leaves and stems can run 17 to 20 percent during much of the early and mid-growing season. It is an important indicator of range heath. Proper grazing use and rotational grazing will help to maintain this beneficial plant as a part of the landscape. This forb is also desired by deer and antelope, and the seeds are utilized by dove, quail, turkey, and songbirds. The flowers are heavily visited by many species of pollinators.
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