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Desmodium triflorum - (L.) DC.

Common Name Three-flower beggarweed, Three-flower tick-trefoil
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Found on a wide range of soils, and most commonly in heavily grazed or closely cut areas in pastures, plantations, roadsides and lawns[310 , 418 ].
Range Probably originated in tropical Asia, but is now Pantropical.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Desmodium triflorum Three-flower beggarweed, Three-flower tick-trefoil

Desmodium triflorum Three-flower beggarweed, Three-flower tick-trefoil


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Desmodium triflorum is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Aeschynomene triflora Poir. Desmodium albiflorum Cordem. Desmodium bullamense G.Don Desmodium caespitosum Bojer Desmodium granulatum Walp. Desmodium parvifolium Blanco Desmodium stipulaceum (Burm.f.) Hassk. Desmodium stipulaceum Burm.f. Hedysarum granulatum Schum. Hedysarum granulatum Schum. & Thonn. Hedysarum stipulaceum Burm.f. Hedysarum triflorum L. Hippocrepis humilis Blanco Meibomia triflora (L.) Kuntze Nicolsonia reptans Hook.f. & Benth. Nicolsonia reptans Meisn. Nicolsonia reptans Meissner Nicolsonia triflora Griseb. Pleurolobus triflorus (L.) J. St. Hil. Pleurolobus triflorus J.St.-Hil Sagotia triflora (L.) Duchass. & Walp.


Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The plant is antipyretic, antiseptic, expectorant[310 ]. A decoction is commonly used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery; and to quench thirst[310 ]. A decoction is used as a mouthwash; and the crushed plant, or a poultice of the leaves, is applied externally on wounds, ulcers, and for skin problems in general[310 ]. The whole plant is used medicinally for inducing sweat and promoting digestion[266 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


Agroforestry Uses: Grown as a green manure and cover crop to smother weeds and prevent soil erosion[310 , 317 ]. The creeping mat of vegetation can provide good ground cover during the wet season, especially in mown or closely cut uses such as under plantation crops and in lawns[418 ]. Bird-Attracting, Butterfly Food Plant

Special Uses

Carbon Farming

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Fodder: Pasture  Management: Fodder  Minor Global Crop

A plant of the moist, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 18 - 28?c, but can tolerate 14 - 32?c[418 ]. It can be killed by temperatures of -1?c or lower[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 4,000mm, but tolerates 1,200 - 5,000mm[418 ]. Tolerant of light levels from deep shade to full sun[418 ]. Succeeds in most well-drained soils of low to moderate fertility[418 ]. Tolerant of high aluminium levels in the soil[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.5 - 7[418 ]. Because of the abundant small uncinate hairs on most species, the seedpods cling most tenaciously to clothing, to any part of the human body, and also to the feathers and hair of various animals, thus ensuring a wide dispersal of the plants[331 ]. The plant can escape from cultivation and become naturalized outside its native range - it has been classed as invasive in several countries[305 , 418 ]. Resistant to heavy grazing and frequent mowing or cutting[418 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria; these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[755 ].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Legume vegetation, especially the trees and shrubs growing between the forest canopy and the forest floor.
  • Fodder: Pasture  Enclosed tracts of farmland mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs (non-grass herbaceous plants).
  • Management: Fodder  Non-destructive management systems maintaining the soil organic carbon.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe. Stored seed develops a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. The seed usually germinates within 1 - 4 months at 25?c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and grow them on until large enough to plant out. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel. Division. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on until they are rooting well. Root cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Janglimethi, Klet pla, Kudaliya, Kuddalia, Memang-mong-arabak, Muntamandu, Ranmethi, Rumput barek sisek puteh, Sirupulladi, Trangqua ba-hoa, Ya tan hoi, Ya tan sai, Creeping tick trefoil, Three-flower beggarweed

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Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Asia, Australia, Belize, Cambodia, Central Africa, Central America, China, Colombia, East Africa, East Timor, Fiji, Gabon, Guinea, Guin?e, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Marquesas, Myanmar, Nepal, New Caledonia, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South America, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam, West Africa, Zimbabwe

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Because of the abundant small uncinate hairs on most species, the seedpods cling most tenaciously to clothing, to any part of the human body, and also to the feathers and hair of various animals, thus ensuring a wide dispersal of the plants[331 ]. The plant can escape from cultivation and become naturalized outside its native range - it has been classed as invasive in several countries[305 , 418 ].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Desmodium canadenseShowy tick-trefoilPerennial0.9 3-6 FLMHSNDM003
Desmodium caudatum Shrub1.5 -  LMHNM011
Desmodium cinereumRensoni. TickcloverPerennial2.0 9-11 FLMHNMWe004
Desmodium elegans Shrub1.5 5-9  LMHNM022
Desmodium glutinosumPointed-leaved TicktrefoilPerennial0.9 3-9 FLMSNM003
Desmodium intortumPega-pega. BeggarlicePerennial1.5 10-12 FLMHFSNMWe003
Desmodium paniculatumPanicled tick trefoilPerennial1.0 4-10 FLMHSNDM003
Desmodium styracifoliumGuang Jing Qian Cao, Coin-leaf desmodiumPerennial0.8 0-0  LMHNM02 
Desmodium uncinatumSilverleaf desmodium. Spanish tick-cloverPerennial2.0 10-12 FLMHSNDMWe003

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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(L.) DC.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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