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Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC


Hedysarum triflorum Linn. var. β et γ L., Hedysarum heterophyllum Willd., Hedysarum triflorum  L. var. oblongifolium Desv., Desmodium triflorum (L.) DC var. majus Wight & Arm, Desmodium stipulaceum Zoll. [1]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Rumput Sisek Naga, Rumput Sisek Betok, Rumput Telinga Tikus
English Variable Vagina Wort, Hetero, Spanish Clover, Greater Colover-leaves Desmodium, Variable Leaf Ticktrefoil
China Yi Yen Shan Ma Huang
Indonesia Sisek Betok, Heuheulangan (Sunda), Sukut Hereman (Java)
Thailand Ya Maengmi
Vietnam Ha[n] the, Trang qu’a di diep
Cambodia Trom’ prei, Smau ‘am’bok
Sri Lanka Maha-undupiyali
South Pacific Senivakacegu, Wakutu (Fiji) [2-4][6]

General Information


Desmodium heterophyllum is a member of the Poaceae family. It is a perennial prostrate herb with multiple branching. The leaves are trifoliate with the petiole of the terminal leaflet being 4-5 times longer than the lateral ones. Terminal leaflet measures 15-20mm x 10-15mm, broadly elliptic or broadly elliptic-obovate with base obtuse and apex rounded or nearly truncate and often emarginate. The lateral leaflets are 12-15mm x 8-10mm. The flowers are solitary or binate in leaf axils or 2 or 3 scattered on rachis. It is purple-red to white in colour. The legume is narrowly oblong, straight or curves, 3-5 jointed and flat. [2][5]

Plant Part Used

Twigs, leaves and roots. [4][6]

Chemical Constituents


Traditional Uses

Gastrointestinal Diseases

The root is considered carminative and is used in the treatment of stomachache and other abdominal complaints. The Cambodians make use of the plant to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. [4][6]

Urinary Tract Diseases

The twigs and leaves have diuretic properties. In Cambodia it is used in the treatment of urinary retention. [4][6]

Other uses

The Indian considered the leaves as galactagogue and expectorant and used them to stimulate lactation and to treat productive cough. The roots and leaves are used to treat infective sore, scabies and itchiness.  Juice extracted from the plant has been used to treat earache. [4][6]

Pre-Clinical Data


Antixanthine oxidase activity

In a screening exercise of 288 extracts prepared from 96 medicinal plants used in Vietnamese traditional medicine to treat gout and related symptoms, the methanol and the methanol-water extract of D. heterophyllum showed some low level antixanthine oxidase activity in a dose-dependent manner. The water extract does not show any antixanthine oxidase activity. [7]


No documentation

Teratogenic effects

No documentation

Clinical Data

Clinical Trials

No documentation

Adverse Effects in Human:

No documentation

Used in Certain Conditions

Pregnancy / Breastfeeding

No documentation

Age Limitations

Neonates / Adolescents

No documentation


No documentation

Chronic Disease Conditions

No documentation


Interactions with drugs

No documentation

Interactions with Other Herbs / Herbal Constituents

No documentation



No documentation

Case Reports

No documentation

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1) Botanical Information


  1. Hanelt P. Mansfeld’s Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops, Springer Berlin 2001 pg.680.
  2. McMillan HF. Tropical Planting and Gardening with Special Reference to Ceylon, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi 1999, pg. 428.
  3. FAO website. Available from Accessed on 12th November 2012.
  4. Open Source for Weed Assessment in Lowland Paddy Fields. Available from Accessed on 12th November 2012.
  5. Flora of China. Available from Accessed on 12th November 2012.
  6. Philippine Alternative Medicine. Available from Accessed on 12th November 2012.
  7. Nguyen MT, Awale S, Tezuka Y, Tran QL, Watanabe H, Kadota S. Xanthine oxidase inhibitory activity of Vietnamese medicinal plants. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin. 2004;27(9):1414-21.

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