Aeschynomene triflora Poir.
Desmodium albiflorum Cordem.
Desmodium bullamense G.Don
Desmodium caespitosum Bojer
Desmodium granulatum Walp.
Desmodium parvifolium Blanco
Desmodium stipulaceum (Burm.f.) Hassk.
Desmodium stipulaceum Burm.f.
Hedysarum granulatum Schum.
Hedysarum granulatum Schum. & Thonn.
Hedysarum stipulaceum Burm.f.
Hedysarum triflorum L.
Hippocrepis humilis Blanco
Meibomia triflora (L.) Kuntze
Nicolsonia reptans Hook.f. & Benth.
Nicolsonia reptans Meisn.
Nicolsonia reptans Meissner
Nicolsonia triflora Griseb.
Pleurolobus triflorus (L.) J. St. Hil.
Pleurolobus triflorus J.St.-Hil
Sagotia triflora (L.) Duchass. & Walp.
Desmodium triflorum is a much branched, mat-forming, prostrate, annual to perennial herb, producing stems 8 - 50 cm long from a woody taproot[
]. It behaves as perennial under conditions of well-distributed rainfall, and is an annual where the rainfall is seasonal[
].The stems are strongly branched and frequently root at the nodes[
The plant is gathered from the wild for local medicinal use[
]. Cultivation of this species has dropped sharply in recent times, but at one time it was commonly grown as a green manure and cover crop to smother weeds and prevent soil erosion[
Probably originated in tropical Asia, but is now Pantropical.
Found on a wide range of soils, and most commonly in heavily grazed or closely cut areas in pastures, plantations, roadsides and lawns[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
A plant of the moist, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28°c, but can tolerate 14 - 32°c[
]. It can be killed by temperatures of -1°c or lower[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 1,200 - 5,000mm[
Tolerant of light levels from deep shade to full sun[
]. Succeeds in most well-drained soils of low to moderate fertility[
]. Tolerant of high aluminium levels in the soil[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7[
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[
]. The plant can escape from cultivation and become naturalized outside its native range - it has been classed as invasive in several countries[
Resistant to heavy grazing and frequent mowing or cutting[
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 plant is antipyretic, antiseptic, expectorant[
]. A decoction is commonly used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery; and to quench thirst[
A decoction is used as a mouthwash; and the crushed plant, or a poultice of the leaves, is applied externally on wounds, ulcers, and for skin problems in general[
The whole plant is used medicinally for inducing sweat and promoting digestion[
Grown as a green manure and cover crop to smother weeds and prevent soil erosion[
]. The creeping mat of vegetation can provide good ground cover during the wet season, especially in mown or closely cut uses such as under plantation crops and in lawns[
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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