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Family Fabaceae / Leguminosae
Spanish clover
Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC.

Yi ye shan ma huang

Scientific names Common names
Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. Desmodium (Engl.)
Desmodium triflorum (L.) DC var. majus W&A Hetero (Engl.)
Hedysarum heterophyllum Willd. Greater clover-leaved desmodium (Engl.)
Hedysarum reptans Roxb. Spanish clover (Engl.)
Meibomia heterophylla (Willd.) Kuntze Variable leaf tick trefoil (Engl.)
  Variable vagina wort (Engl.)
Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. is an accepted name. The Plant List

Other vernacular names
CAMBODIAN: Trom prei, Smau 'am'bok.
CHINESE:Yi ye shan lu dou, Bian ye shan ma huang, Tian hu zhi zhu, Yi ye shan ma huang.
INDIA: Tellausiri.
INDONESIAN: Sisik betok, Heuheulangan, Sukut jareman, Kimulas.
LAOTIAN: Padong mod liinz.
MALAYSIAN: Rumput sisek naga, Rumput sisek betok, Rumput telinga tikus.
THAI: Ya-maengmi.
VIETNAMESE: Ha[n] the, Trang qu'a di diep.

Desmodium heterophyllum is a prostrate, spreading, slender plant, with stems 10 to 40 centimeters long, clothed with long, spreading hairs. Leaves are 3-foliate on top, and unifoliate lower down. Leaflets are oblong, elliptic, or obovate-oblong, 1 to 2 centimeters long, and hairy beneath. Flowers are purple, and 5 to 6 millimeters long. Pods are about 1.5 centimeters long, with 4 or 5 joints which are as broad as they are long; the upper suture is continuous and the lower indented.

- In open, usually damp grasslands, old clearings, etc., at low and medium altitudes in Ilocos Norte, Rizal, and Quezon Provinces in Luzon; in Polillo; and in Palawan.
- Also native to China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Papua New Guinea.

- Moderate levels of tannins.
- Yields alkaloids.
Study of aerial parts using spectroscopic methods isolated five isoflavonoids including one new, (3R)-2',4',5,7-tetrahydroxy-6-methylisolavanone (1). (see study below) (10)

- Considered carminative, tonic, and diuretic.
- Leaves considered galactagogue.
- Study suggested
α-glucosidase and α-amylase inhibitory activities.

Parts used
Roots, twigs, leaves, juice.


- Roots and leaves, pounded together, are applied to sores.
- Juice dropped into the ear for earache.
- Decoction taken for stomach aches and other abdominal complaints.
- In Cambodia, twigs and leaves used to treat urinary retention and digestive complaints. Also used for diarrhea and dysentery. Leaves used as galatagogue.
- In Mauritius, used as a diuretic, for dysentery, and as a cooling medicine.
- In Lombok, Indonesia, roots, stems, and leaves used for scabies and itches.
- In West Java, Indonesia, used as postpartum remedy. Also for lack of appetite.
- In India, whole plant used as galactagogue and expectorant. Also used as tonic and diuretic. Plant decoction used for stomach aches.
- In Malaysia, used for sores, earaches, stomach aches and abdominal complaints.
- Fodder: For cattle grazing, low yield but good forage,with a nutritive value of 17-18% CP, and no reported toxicity.

α-Amylase and α-Glucosidase Inhibitory Activity / Isoflavanoids / Aerial Parts:
Study of aerial parts isolated five isoflavanoids including one new, (3R)-2',4',5,7-tetrahydroxy-6-methylisolavanone (1). Genistein (5) and dalbergioidin (2) inhibited both α-amylase and α-glucosidase with IC50 values of 110.4 and 162.8 µM for α-amylase and 257.3 and 412.6 µM for α-glucosidase. Antidiabetic drug acarbose was used as standard. (10)


Updated August 2020 / October 2015

                                                   PHOTOS / ILLUSTRATIONS
IMAGE SOURCE: / Photo / Desmodium heterophyllum / click on image to go to source page / © Indiamart
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Seeds / Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. - variable-leaf ticktrefoil / Steve Hurst / USDA
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE: Photograph / Desmodium heterophyllum / Vinayaraj /click on image to go to source page / CC by SA 4.0 / Wikidata

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Desmodium heterophyllum / Tropical Forages
Desmodium heterophyllum DC - FABACEAE - Dicotyledon / OswaldAsia
Medicinal Plants / P P Joy, J Thomas, Samuel Mathew et al / Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Research Station
Trout’s Notes on the Genus Desmodium / K Trout / Trouts Notes
Initial Studies on Alkaloids from Lombok Medicinal Plants / Surya Hadi and John B Brenner / Molecules, 2001
Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC / Chinese names / Catalogue of Life, China
Desmodium heterophyllum (Wiild.) DC. / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED
Medicinal plants used by the villagers of a Sundanese community in West Java, Indonesia
/ Katrin Roosita, Clara M. Kusharto, Makiko Sekiyama∗, Yulian Fachrurozi, Ryutaro Ohtsuka / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 115 (2008) 72–81
Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. / Synonyms / The Plant List
Isoflavonoids from Desmodium heterophyllum Aerial Parts / Le Minh Ha, Nguyen Thi Luyen, Ngo Thi Phuong, Do Thi Thanh Huyen, Le Mai Huong, / Pham Minh Quan, Nguyen Tuan Hiep and Nguyen Tien Dat / Natural Product Coommunication, 2018; 13(6): pp 699-700

It is not uncommon for links on studies/sources to change. Copying and pasting the information on the search window or using the DOI (if available) will often redirect to the new link page. (Citing and Using a (DOI) Digital Object Identifier)

                                                            List of Understudied Philippine Medicinal Plants

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