Native to the southern United States and Latin America, and introduced to Hawaii prior to 1870. In the U.S. it is found in Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
A perennial bushy or vine-like plant that grows erect on stiff, fibrous stems that are well branched. Reproduction is from seeds. Plants favor moist environments, and can be found commonly along the margins of turf where mowing is avoided, as well as along damp roadsides and in waste areas and disturbed sites. Plants have value as forage crops for livestock and have been introduced from its native are for this purpose.
Plants are sprawling upright to a height of about 3 feet, much of this height due to the long stems that terminate with the flowers and seed pods. Leaves are divided into 3 large, oval leaflets, and attach to the stem on a long stalk. Flowers open only one or two at a time on the long upper stem, with the seed pods developing below them. Flowers are deep burgundy purple and irregular in shape. The seed pods are very long and thin and drooping from the stem, but curving upward toward their tip.
Characteristicts Important to Control:
Individual plants are easily removed, but for wider infestations a systemic herbicide will be effective. Where possible, control of moisture will reduce the infestation.