Desmodium styracifolium (Osbeck) Merr.

Desmodium styracifolium (Osbeck) Merr.




Hedysarum styracifolium Osbeck, Desmodium capitatum Burm.f., Desmodium retroflexum (L.) DC.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Korat nasi
Indonesia Katepan, melikan (Javanese), susuukan (Sundanese)
Cambodia Voë vè:t (general), smau srâlâb pôpôôk, srâka: niëk (Battambang)
Laos Kéng no:yz ngwà liaz, pâdông fai
Thailand Rukku ning taa no, phee suea nam (Lampang)
Vietnam D[oof]ng ti[eef]n (l[oo]ng), kim ti[eef]nth[ar]o, v[ar]y r[oof]ng

Geographical Distributions

It originated from India and Sri Lanka eastward to China, and southward to Malesia and Micronesia. Commonly found throughout the Malesian region, but no records from New Guinea.


It is a much-branched, erect shrub or prostrate to ascending slightly shrub within 60-200 cm tall young stems hairy.

The leaves consist of 1- or 3-leaflets. The stipules are narrowly triangular, 8-11 mm long. The terminal leaflet is broadly elliptical or broadly reverse egg-shaped to orbicular, (1-)2-4.5(-5.5) cm x (1-)2-4.5(-5) cm. It is larger than the lateral ones with thick or leathery texture. The upper surface is hairless while the lower surface densely hairy. It has 8-10 lateral veins, not extending to the margin.

The inflorescence is terminal and arising from axils, short indeterminate very densely flowered, stalked inflorescence with size 1-3(-5) cm long.

The flowers are paired, sepal is 4-lobed and is densely hairy while the male element is in two bundles. The fragrant petal is purple or violet.

The pod is narrowly oblong and compressed, (12-)15-20 mm x 2.5-3 mm. It is plicate-retroflexed when young but later becomes straight with (4-)5-6 joints.

The seed is kidney-shaped, depressed reverse egg-shaped or transversely elliptical 1.3-1.8 mm x 2-2.2 mm.

Ecology / Cultivation

D. styracifolium is found in rather open habitats, in full sunlight as well as in shade. It grows on periodically wet and dry terrain, as well as in grasslands and abandoned rice fields from sea-level up to 600 m altitude.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(1): Medicinal and poisonous plants 1.