Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC.

Last updated: 14 May 2015

Scientific Name

Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC.


Hedysarum heterophyllum Willd., Hedysarum reptans Roxb., Meibomia heterophylla (Willd.) Kuntze [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Rumput sisek naga, rumput sisek betok, rumput telinga tikus [2], peparu bindang , peparu bendang, kara-kara, kekara, ombak-ombak [3]
English Hetero, spanish clover [2], backdam sweetheart, backdam watchman, creeping beggar weed, iron weed, kaimi, kaimi clover, spanish clover, strong bark, wild groundnut, wild peanut [3]
Indonesia Sisik betok (Indonesian); heuheulangan (Sundanese); sukut jareman (Javanese) [2]; deleyan, ki mules, lamutan potong kujang, susu-ukan [3]
Thailand Ya-maengmi (Northeast) [2]
Laos Padông môd liinz [2]
Cambodia Trôm' préi, smau 'âm'bôk [2]
Vietnam Ha[n] the, tràng qu'a di diêp (Southern) [2]
Brazil Amores-do-campo, carrapicho-beico-de-boi, marmelada-de-cavalo, pega-pega [3]
Madagascar Famalakantsy,pelatsifotra, savisaha, tialamba [3]

Geographical Distributions

Desmodium heterophyllum is native to the tropical Asia and adjacent islands, occurring naturally in Mauritius, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Malesia, China and Taiwan. It is adventives to the South Pacific and naturalised in parts of north-eastern Australia. [2]

Botanical Description

D. heterophyllum comes from the family of Leguminosae. It is a prostrate or ascending perennial under shrub and with woody rootstock. [2]

The stems are up to 1.5 m long, freely branching and covered with spreading reddish-brown hairs. [2]

The leaves are trifoliolate where on the lower parts are often unifoliolate. The petiole is 5-15 mm long. The leaflets are obovate or elliptical and usually measuring 10-25 mm x 8-14 mm. The laterals are smaller than the terminals, rounded or indented at the tip, hairless on the upper surface and sparsely covered with long hairs on the lower surface. [2]

The inflorescence is a few-flowered axillary or terminal raceme measures up to 6 cm long, and/or leaf-opposed clusters of 1-3 flowers. The pedicel is 10-25 mm long. [2]

The flower measures about 5 mm long which is purple or white. [2]

The pod is narrowly oblong, measuring 10-20 mm x 3-5 mm and with 3-6 broadly oblong or quadrate articles measure 3-4 mm long and densely covered with minute hooked hairs. The isthmus is between the articles that about ¾ of the width of the pod. It dehisces along the lower margins when ripen. [2]

The seed is transversely elliptical and measuring about 1.5 mm x 2 mm. [2]


D. heterophyllum adapted to the humid tropics with an annual rainfall exceeding 1500 mm and to a wide range of soils from sands to clays. It is reported to be less tolerant of soil acidity than D. heterocarpon (L.) DC. It is intolerant of fire and salinity but susceptible to frost. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of D. heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2010 Jul 14; cited 2015 May 07]. Available from:
  2. Hacker JB, Teitzel JK. Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. In: Mannetje L't and Jones RM editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4: Forages. Wageningen, Netherlands; Pudoc Scientific Publisher: 1992. p. 110-112.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC World dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology (5 Volume set). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 1373.
  4. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 262.