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Useful Tropical Plants

Desmodium styracifolium

(Osbeck) Merr.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Desmodium capitatum (Burm.f.) DC.

Desmodium celebicum Schindl.

Desmodium retroflexum (L.) DC.

Desmodium rotundifolium Wall.

Hedysarum capitatum Burm.f.

Hedysarum retroflexum L.

Hedysarum styracifolium Osbeck

Meibomia capitata (Burm.f.) Kuntze

Meibomia retroflexa (L.) Kuntze

Nicolsonia styracifolia Desv.

Pseudarthria capitata (Burm.f.) Hassk.

Uraria retroflexa Drake

Uraria styracifolia Wight & Arn.

Common Name: Guang Jing Qian Cao

Desmodium styracifolium
Drawing of the flowering and fruiting stem (Fig 1 only)
Photograph by: Burman, N.L., Flora Indica, p. 167, t. 54, fig. 1 (1768) [A. van der Laan]
Creative Commons License

General Information

Desmodium styracifolium is a much-branched, erect to prostrate plant with more or less woody stems that persist. It can grow from 60 - 200cm tall[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is sometimes used as a green manure.

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.

Range

E. Asia - China, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, to Micronesia.

Habitat

Mountain slopes, grasslands and thickets at elevations below 1,000 metres in China[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
]. Periodically wet and dry terrain, as well as in grasslands and abandoned rice fields; from sea-level up to 600 metres[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Properties

Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

The range of Desmodium styracifolium extends from southeastern China (hardiness zone 8 in Anhui and Hubei) to the tropical regions of southeast Asia. Plants from the north of its range experience light to occasionally moderate frosts and can be expected to succeed outdoors in the warmer regions of the temperate zone.
Requires a well-drained soil and a sunny sheltered position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Succeeds in full sunlight as well as in shade[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Because of the abundant small uncinate hairs on most species, the seedpods cling most tenaciously to clothing, to any part of the human body, and also to the feathers and hair of various animals, thus ensuring a wide dispersal of the plants[
331
Title
Flora of Guatemala
Publication
 
Author
Standley P.C. & J. A. Steyermark
Website
http://www.archive.org/
Publisher
 
Year
1946 - 1976
ISBN
 
Description
A superb reference, though somewhat dated. Gives lots of plant uses as well as information on plant habit and habitat. The entire flora (13 volumes) can now be downloaded from http://www.archive.org/
].
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[
755
Title
Nodulation Plants in GRIN Taxonomy
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.ars-grin.gov/~sbmljw/cgi-bin/taxnodul.pl?language=en
Publisher
United States Department of Agriculture
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An online database listing plants that have either positive or negative reports on root and stem nodulation with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

The whole plant is diuretic and febrifuge[
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
,
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
]. It is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea[
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
]. A decoction of the plant is used in the treatment of gallstones, urinary tract stones and hepatitis[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
].

The plant is used against colic, together with the central part of maize cobs. In Vietnam, the whole plant is considered diuretic, and applied against gall bladder and kidney stones and oedema. In southern China, it is also used to treat gall bladder and kidney stones[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The whole plant is used medicinally for curing nephritis oedema, urethra inflammation, jaundice, and irritation from nettles[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant is reported to be a good green manure, which covers the soil fast and produces numerous roots, nodules and seeds[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed develops a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.
The seed usually germinates within 1 - 4 months at 25°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on until large enough to plant out.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel.
Division. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on until they are rooting well.
Root cuttings.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-12-13. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Desmodium+styracifolium>

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