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Desmanthus illinoensis - (Michx.)MacMill. ex B.L.Rob.&Fernald.

Common Name Prairie Mimosa, Illinois bundleflower
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Prairies, river banks and fields[222, 235]. Ditches, stream bottoms, fields, roadsides and low areas, often on clay soils[274].
Range N. America - Ohio to N. Dakota, New Mexico to Mississippi.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Desmanthus illinoensis Prairie Mimosa, Illinois bundleflower

Desmanthus illinoensis Prairie Mimosa, Illinois bundleflower


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Desmanthus illinoensis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.3 m (4ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to July. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.


D. brachylobus. Acuan illinoensis. (Michx.)Kuntze.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed.
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked. Rich in protein but without much flavour[183]. The seedpods are about 25mm long and contain 3 - 5 small seeds[235]. They are freely borne in the plants native environment, but will have to be very freely produced in this country if it is to be a worthwhile crop[K].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antipruritic;  Ophthalmic.

A leaf tea has been used in the treatment of itchy skin[222, 257]. Five seeds have been placed in the eye at night and washed out in the morning to treat trachoma[257].

Other Uses

Root bark of D. illinoensis has been found to contain N,N-DMT, NMT, N-hydroxy-N-methyltryptamine, 2-hydroxy-N-methyltryptamine, and gramine (toxic). The root bark is mixed with a native source of beta-Carbolines to produce a hallucinogenic drink called prairiehuasca, which is an analog of the shamanic brew ayahuasca.

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen;  Management: Standard;  Staple Crop: Protein;  Under Development.

Requires a moist but well-drained soil in full sun[200]. Plants are often found growing in clay soils in the wild[274]. Suitable for the wild garden or other naturalistic plantings[200]. In favourable situations this plant can self-sow to the point of nuisance[200]. This plant is being evaluated by the Land Institute of Salina, Kansas, as an edible legume for growing with perennial grains in a non-tillage permaculture system[183]. It is certainly worthy of more attention in this country, though the small seed size mitigates against its use[K]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].


Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow in a cold frame in the spring. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. If you have sufficient seed then it is probably worthwhile sowing some in situ in mid to late spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Prairie Mimosa, Illinois bundleflower,prickleweed.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

North America, USA, Belgium.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant can be weedy or invasive.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants


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Expert comment


(Michx.)MacMill. ex B.L.Rob.&Fernald.

Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Oscar Holland   Tue Nov 13 2007

According to Erowid, Desmanthus illinoensis is a perennial weed legume growing from .3 to 1 meter tall. It has fern-like leafed branches and produces N,N-DMT in its root bark. N,N-DMT is a psychoactive chemical in the tryptamine family, which causes intense visuals and strong psychedelic mental affects when smoked, injected, snorted, or (when taken with an MAOI such as haramaline) when swallowed orally. N,N-DMT is most often called just "DMT", although this name sometimes causes confusion with its chemical cousin 5-MeO-DMT. N,N-DMT is present in thousands of species of plants and has been used traditionally in South America both in Ayahuasca brews and snuffs since at least the time of first European contact. N,N-DMT gained significant notoriety in the last 15 years from Terence Mckenna's many glowing rants about the strange visions it can precipitate.

The Vaults of Erowid

Dan   Tue Oct 28 2008

Wikipedia says this plant contains gramine in the roots, which is toxic, in addition to DMT.

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