Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC.

Etymology Genus
Chain; referring to fruit pod which comprises of several joints
Species Varying leaf; referring to the various sizes of the leaflets
Synonyms Hedysarum heterophyllum Willd.
Common Names Greater Clover-leafed Desmodium, Spanish Clover
Status Uncertain
Form Herbaceous and sometimes woody creeper
Native Distribution China, Taiwan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indochina, and Malesia

Diagnostic: A very common species in lawns and scrublands. Their trifoliate leaves bear a close resemblance to another very common relative, Desmodium triflorum, but most of the leaflets are much larger, more elongated, and stiffer than the latter species.

Interesting Facts: The Spanish Clover is said to grow in a wide range of soil conditions; from sands to clays (Globinmed, 2010). This, together with its prostrate form, makes it a very successful weed on our frequently mowed lawns.

Desmodium heterophyllum
A comparison of Desmodium heterophyllum and D. triflorum, as well as the varying leaflet sizes of the D. heterophyllum.
Desmodium heterophyllum  
The young leaves are folded along the mid-vein.  
Desmodium heterophyllum Desmodium heterophyllum
Supermacro shot of the flowers of Desmodium heterophyllum.   The back of the petal is white in colour.
Desmodium heterophyllum
The Spanish Clover can grow well in marshy habitats, like in a drain in this case. Note that the stem is woody.


Globinmed. (2010) Desmodium heterophyllum (Willd.) DC. Global Information Hub on Integrated Science, Institute of Medical Research, Ministry of Health, Malaysia. Accessed on 3-Jan-2013.
Posted on 3-Jan-2013 / Last Updated on 16-Jan-2015
Family: Fabaceae