Desmodium triflorum (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Desmodium triflorum (L.) DC.

Protologue: Prodr. 2: 334 (1825).


Hedysarum triflorum L. (1753), Desmodium parvifolium Blanco (1845).

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: daun mules (general), semanggen (Javanese), jukut jarem (Sundanese)
  • Malaysia: rumput barek sisek putih, sisek tenggiling
  • Philippines: kaliskis-dalag (Tagalog), himbispuyo (Visaya), gumadep (Ifugao)
  • Cambodia: smau kaè lolook
  • Thailand: ya-klethoi, ya-tanhoi (central), ya-tansai (northern)
  • Vietnam: hàn the.


Pantropical; a common species throughout the Malesian region, Australia and the Pacific Islands.


A decoction of D. triflorum is commonly used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, as well as China, India and Sri Lanka. In the Philippines, a decoction is also used as a mouthwash and as an expectorant. In Thailand, the whole plant is used as an antipyretic and to quench thurst. In Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Laos and India the crushed plant or a poultice of the leaves is externally applied on wounds, ulcers, and for skin problems in general, apparently for its antiseptic properties. It is also used as a forage, as a green manure and ground cover.


A much branched, mat-forming, prostrate, annual or perennial herb, 8-50 cm long, covered with hairs, rootstock woody; leaves 3-foliolate, stipules obliquely lanceolate, 3.5-6 mm long, persistent, terminal leaflet obovate-oblong, obovate or obcordate, 4-14 mm × 4-12 mm, larger than the lateral ones, variably hairy beneath; flowers 1-3 in leaf axils, calyx 5-lobed, hairy, corolla pink to purple, androecium diadelphous; pod flat, 6-18 mm × 2-3 mm, 3-5-jointed, constricted between the rectangular articles; seed quadrangular, 1.2 mm × 1.7 mm. D. triflorum is found on a wide range of soils, and most commonly in heavily grazed or closely cut areas.

Selected sources

20, 97, 119, 389, 482, 483, 629, 921, 1120, 1178, 1393, 1434, 1520.


N. Setyowati-Indarto & M. Brink