Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC.

Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC.




Hedysarum heterophyllum Willd., Meibomia heterophylla (Willd.) Kuntze.

Vernacular Names

Malaysia Rumput sisek naga, rumput sisek betok, rumput telinga tikus.
English Hetero, Spanish clover.
Indonesia Sisik betok (Indonesian), heuheulangan (Sundanese), sukut jareman (Javanese).
Cambodia Trôm' préi, smau 'âm'bôk.
Laos Padông môd liinz.
Thailand Ya-maengmi (Northeast).
Vietnam Ha[n] the, tràng qu'a di diêp (Southern).

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.


D. heterophyllum is a prostrate or ascending perennial under shrub and with woody rootstock. The stems are up to 1.5 m long, freely branching and covered with spreading reddish-brown hairs.

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.

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

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

Ecology / Cultivation

D. heterophyllum is 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.

Line Drawing / Photograph



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