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Useful Tropical Plants

Desmodium heterocarpon

(L.) DC.

Fabaceae


A very polymorphic species, it has been variously treated by botanists in the past. We are following the treatment by Ohashi, H. 1991. Taxonomic studies in Desmodium heterocarpon (L.) DC. (Leguminosae). Journal of Japanese Botany 66: 14-25 which treats it in a wide sense with 5 subspecies[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Desmodium birmanicum Prain

Desmodium buergeri Miq.

Desmodium heterocarpum (L.) DC.

Desmodium heterophyllum buergeri (Miq.) Hosok.

Desmodium oblongum Kurz p.p.

Desmodium ovalifolium (Prain) Wallich ex Ridley

Desmodium ovalifolium Merr.

Desmodium polycarpum (Poir.) DC.

Desmodium reticulatum pilosum Craib

Desmodium siliquosum (Burm.f.) DC.

Desmodium toppinii Schindl.

Hedysarum heterocarpon L.

Hedysarum polycarpum Poir.

Hedysarum siliquosum Burm.f.

Meibomia buergeri (Miq.) Kuntze

Meibomia heterocarpa (L.) Kuntze

Meibomia reticulata (Benth.) Kuntze

Common Name:

Desmodium heterocarpon
Inflorescence
Photograph by: Dinesh Valke
Creative Commons License
Desmodium heterocarpon Desmodium heterocarpon Desmodium heterocarpon Desmodium heterocarpon

General Information

Desmodium heterocarpon is an aggressively creeping, stoloniferous perennial plant that can grow from 30 - 150cm tall, producing dense stands. The stems are much-branched, especially at their base and usually become quite woody[
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.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine. It can be used as a ground cover under trees, where it stabilizes and restores the soil.

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, Japan, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, Australia, Paci

Habitat

Grasslands, grassy slopes, watersides, thickets, forests; at elevations from 300 - 1,800 metres[
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.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height1.00 m
PollinatorsInsects, Self
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the moist tropics and subtropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 14 - 24°c, but can tolerate 4 - 34°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 2,000 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 4,000mm, and a weak dry season of no more than 3 - 4 months[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Prefers light shade, doing well in full sun and tolerating quite deep shade[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Tolerant of a wide range of soils, succeeding in low fertility and able to grow with high levels of aluminium or manganese[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Plants have a good tolerance of waterlogging and periodic inundation of the soil[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4 - 7[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
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 is known to escape from cultivation and become naturalized[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
Seedling growth is slow. Once established, however, it is a very long-lived legume which can persist for over 10 years regardless of grazing management[
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 can be self- or cross-pollinating - it selfs when flowers are tripped[
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.
].
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 used medicinally for reducing fever and for treating contusions and strains[
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 produces a heavy, matty growth in open sandy areas, making it useful as a weed-controlling ground cover[
1309
Title
The Leguminosae; A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses and Nodulation
Publication
 
Author
Allen O.N.; Allen E.K.
Publisher
University of Wisconsin
Year
1981
ISBN
0-333-32221-5
Description
An amazing and comprehensive work, giving a brief guide to the many genera of the family Fabaceae and also the principle uses of the genus.
].
The plant is used as a cover crop for erosion and weed control in tree plantations, with the potential for use as a green manure[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
It has possible use in agro-forestry systems due to its shade tolerance and comparatively shallow rooting. It can be used for cut-and-carry and for the restoration of degraded soils[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

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. 2024-06-23. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Desmodium+heterocarpon>

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