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Desmodium triflorum (L.) DC.


Aeschynomene triflora Poir., Desmodium albiflorum Cordem., Desmodium bullamense G.Don, Desmodium caespitosum Bojer, Desmodium granulatum Walp., Desmodium stipulaceum Burm.f., Desmodium stipulaceum (Burm.f.) Hassk., Hedysarum granulatum Schum. & Thonn., Hedysarum granulatum Schum., Hedysarum stipulaceum Burm.f., Hedysarum triflorum L., Hippocrepis humilis Blanco, Nicolsonia reptans Meissner, Nicolsonia reptans Hook.f. & Benth., Nicolsonia triflora Griseb., Pleurolobus triflorus J.St.-Hil., Sagotia triflora (L.) Duchass. & Walp. [1]

Vernacular Names

Malaysia                Rumput Barek Putih, Sisek Tenggiling
English Three-flowered Baggerweed, Creeping Tick Trefoil, Tick Clover
China San Dian Jin
Indonesia Daun Mules, Jukut Jarem, Delilan
Thailand Ya-klethoi, Ya-tanhoi, Ya-tansai
Philippines Kaliskis-dalag, Pakpak-lanagu (Tagalog); Himbispuyo (Visaya); Gumadep (Ifugao)
Vietnam Trang Qua Ba Hoa
Cambodia Smau Hae Lolook
India Kuddalia
Bangladesh Kulaliya (Bengali); Ya Re Sur Sah (Murong)
Spanish Heirba Cuartillo
Portuguese Amor-do-campo
South Pacific Olmud (Palau); Konikoni, Vakathengu (Fiji); Kihikihi (Tonga) [4] [8] [10] [11]

General Information


Desmodium triflorum, a member of the Fabaceae family is a trailing herb. The stems are pubescent while the older parts are glabrous. The stipules are lanceolate and 3mm long. The leaves are trifoliate, leaflets are obvate, retuse of emarginated, glabrous or sparsely pubescent, measuring 3.6mm long. The flowers are pink, 3-6 opposite the leaves or axillary. The calyx is 3mm long, the teeth lanceolate, acuminate and pilose. The pedicel is slender about 1cm long. The stamens are diadelphous or nearly so. The pods are curved with 3-5 joints. The upper suture is continuous while the lower suture crenate to one fourth, the joints are subquadrate, 3mm long and broad, veiny, puberulous, and tardily dehiscent. [2] [5]

Plant Part Used

Roots, leaves and whole plant [9]

Chemical Constituents

3, 4-di-hydroxy phenylethyl trimethyl ammonium cation; β-phenylamine (major); betaine;  choline; coryneine; hypaphorine; indole-3-acetic acid; N, N-dimethyl tryptophan methyl ester; S-l-stachydrine; trigonelline, tyramine.[11]

Traditional Uses

The Indians considered D. triflorum plant as acrid, sweet, cooling, expectorant, and galactagogue which rendered its usefulness for cough, bronchitis, wounds, dysentery and flatulence [7]. In Bangladesh it is used as a remedy for blindness, eye diseases, menorrhagia and breast pain [11]. Throughout the tropics, a decoction of the plant is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery [6][9]In Haiti, the plant is used to treat fever with catarrh and a decoction of D. triflorum tea is used for rheumatism [10]

The leaves of D. triflorum are considered a galactagogue and laxative [11]. As a galactagogue, the groundedleaves mixed with cow’s milk is taken daily in the morning [9]. A poultice of the leaves is used as antiseptic for wounds, ulcer and other skin problems [6][9]. The leaves paste is used for abscesses and skin eruptions. Decoctions of the leaves are given to children with diarrhoea, dysentery, indigestion, and convulsion [10]. In Philippines, the decoction is used as mouthwash and expectorant [6][9].

The roots are carminative, tonic, diuretic and traditionally used to treat cough, asthma and bilious complain [9][10][11]. 

Pre-Clinical Data


Anthelmintic activity

The alcoholic extract of D. triflorum has been found to effectively kill Ascaris lumbricoides in vitro. [12]

Anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity

The methanol extract of D.triflorum possesses both anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity shown by animal models of λ-carrageenan-induced paw edema in mice and acetic acid-induced writhing response and formalin test, respectively. The mechanism of anti-inflammatory activity seems to be related to the decreases in the levels of malondialdehyde in the oedema paw which could have been mediated through increase in activity of superoxide dismutase and glutathione reductase in the liver, and the nitric oxide level via regulating the IL-1beta production and the level of tumour necrosis factor (TNF-alpha) in the inflamed tissues. [13]

Antioxidant activity

The ethyl acetate fraction of D. triflorum proved to have the most potent antioxidant activity amongst the tested extracts i.e 0.4 mg was equivalent to 186.6 +/- 2.5µg α-tocopherol and 82.5 +/- 2.1µg and trolox. [14]


The LD50 of the crude extract of D. triflorum was greater than 10g/kg for mice. [14]

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


  1. The Plant List. Accessed on 14th July 2014. Available from
  2. Handbook of Excursion Flora of the Gangetic Plains and Adjoining Hills, Mittal Publications, New Delhi 1991; pg. 29.
  3. Odugbemi T. A Textbook of Medicinal Plants of Nigeria University of Lagos Press, Lagos 2008; pg. 127.
  4. Rehm S. Multilingual Dictionary of Agronomic Plants, Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordercht. 1994; pg. 69.
  5. Pulle AA. Stoffers AL., Flora of Suriname, Volume 2, Royal Tropical Institute. Amsterdam. 1940; pg. 249.
  6. Batugal PA, Kanniah J, Oliver JT. Medicinal Plants Research in Asia – Volume 1 International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Serdang 2004 pg. 163.
  7. Sahoo S. Conservation and Utilization of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Allied Publishers Ltd. Mumbai. 2001; pg. 49.
  8. Tropical Forages. Available from Accessed on 26th October 2012.
  9. Oswald Asia; Desmodium triflorum – Fabaceae. Available from Accessed on 26th October 2012.
  10. Philippines Medicinal Plants. Available from Accessed on 26th October 2012.
  11. Medicinal Plants of Bangladesh. Available from Accessed on 26th October 2012
  12. Raj RK. Screening of indigenous plants for anthelmintic action against human Ascaris lumbricoides: Part--II. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. 1975; Jan-Mar;19(1):UNKNOWN.
  13. Lai SC, Peng WH, Huang SC, Ho YL, Huang TH, Lai ZR, Chang YS. Analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of methanol extract from Desmodium triflorum DC in mice. Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(3):573-88.
  14. Lai SC, Ho YL, Huang SC, Huang TH, Lai ZR, Wu CR, Lian KY, Chang YS. Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of Desmodium triflorum (L.) DC. Am J Chin Med. 2010;38(2):329-42.

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