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 is a much-branched, erect to prostrate plant with more or less woody stems that persist. It can grow from 60 - 200cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It is sometimes used as a green manure.
E. Asia - China, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, to Micronesia.
Mountain slopes, grasslands and thickets at elevations below 1,000 metres in China[
]. Periodically wet and dry terrain, as well as in grasslands and abandoned rice fields; from sea-level up to 600 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
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[
]. Succeeds in full sunlight as well as in shade[
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[
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[
The whole plant is diuretic and febrifuge[
]. It is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea[
]. A decoction of the plant is used in the treatment of gallstones, urinary tract stones and hepatitis[
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[
The whole plant is used medicinally for curing nephritis oedema, urethra inflammation, jaundice, and irritation from nettles[
The plant is reported to be a good green manure, which covers the soil fast and produces numerous roots, nodules and seeds[
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.
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