Desmodium heterocarpon (L.) DC.

Desmodium heterocarpon (L.) DC.




Hedysarum heterocarpon L.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Rumput kerbau derapah, kacang kayu betina.
English Carpon desmodium.
Indonesia Buntut meyong sisir (Sundanese), kaci (Javanese), akar entimor (Belitung).
Philippines Mangkit-parang (Tagalog), mani-mani (Visaya), huyo-huyop (Ifugao).
Cambodia Baay dâm'nnaëp.
Vietnam Tra[n]g qu'a di qu'a.

Geographical Distributions

Desmodium heterocarpon is distributed naturally from India and Sri Lanka through Burma, Thailand, Indo-China, Malesia, China, Taiwan, Ryukyu, Japan, to the Pacific Islands and Australia.


D. heterocarpon is a perennial herb or low shrub that can reach up to 0.5-3.0 m long and with ascending or creeping stems from a woody rootstock. The stems are mostly much-branched at the base, variously hairy when young, from almost hairless to densely cover and with more or less appressed hairs.

The leaves are with 3 leaflets, or often with 1 leaflet on seedlings or at the base of the older stems. The leaflets are variable in texture, shape and size and mostly papery. The terminal is elliptical, ovate or obovate, measuring (1.5-)2-6-9) cm x (1-)1.5-3(-4) cm, indented or more or less pointed at the tip and sparsely covered with appressed hairs on the upper surface. The lower surface is more densely covered with appressed silvery hairs and with prominent nerves. The lateral ones are with the same proportions but can reach up to 4 cm long.

The inflorescence is a dense axillary or terminal raceme. The flowers are pink, mauve, purple, violet or white, measure 4-7 mm long, mostly in pairs where each is on a pedicel measures 3-5 mm long within the axil and with a pointed bract measures 5-8 mm long.

The pod is erect to ascending, measuring 10-28 mm x 2-3 mm, straight along the upper margin and undulate along the lower margin. The isthmus is between the 4-8 articles, which is 2/3-4/5 as wide as the pod that splits along the lower margin when ripe. The articles are quadrate, measure 2.5-3 mm long and smooth or hairy. The seed is broadly elliptical and measuring about 1.5 mm x 2 mm.

Ecology / Cultivation

D. heterocarpon is adapted to a fairly high rainfall of over 1200 mm a year which is can withstand short periods of drought but does not tolerate prolonged flooding. It is tolerant of repeated light frosts, and in the tropics it can grow up to 2500 m altitude. It prefers better-drained soils of light texture. It tolerates soil pH values of 4.3-5.0 with high Al saturation.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 4: Forages.