Desmodium uncinatum (Jacq.) DC.

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Desmodium uncinatum

Sep 2009
Photo: Mike Bingham

Desmodium uncinatum

May 2011
Photo: Mike Bingham

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Common names: Silverleaf desmodium (English: Zambia)
Frequency: frequent to abundant
Status: Introduced
Prostrate or sprawling perennial, Stems, leaves (and articles) covered in dense hooked hairs readily adhering to clothing. Leaves 3-foliolate; leaflets ovate, acute to acuminate at apex, with a broad whitish marking centred on the main vein on the upper surface; petiole 1-5 cm; rhachis 0.5-1.5 cm. Inflorescences mostly terminal, 10-40 cm. Standard purple, fading to blue-green. Fruits constricted between the 3-8 articles; articles 3-7 × 3-4 mm.
Type location:
Type specimen grown in Vienna
Notes: Widespread in Zambia, probably in all provinces.
Native to tropical America; introduced from Queensland where it was developed for pasture improvement. Seed is grown commercially in Zambia. One of many legumes introduced for improved pastures, but the only one which has persisted.
Derivation of specific name: uncinatum: bearing hooks, referring to the indumentum of the stems and pods.
Habitat: Human habitation.
Altitude range:
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Native of South America.
Zambian distribution (Flora Zambesiaca): N,W,C
Zambian distribution (Provinces): Nw,Cb,N,C,Lk
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Content last updated: Friday 2 February 2018

Chapano, C. & Mugarisanwa, N.H. (2003). Plants of the Matobo District National Herbarium and Botanic Garden, Zimbabwe Page 13.

Mapaura, A. & Timberlake, J. (eds) (2004). A checklist of Zimbabwean vascular plants Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 33 Sabonet, Pretoria and Harare Page 48.

Strugnell, A.M. (2006). A Checklist of the Spermatophytes of Mount Mulanje, Malawi Scripta Botanica Belgica 34 National Botanic Garden of Belgium Page 98.

Verdcourt, B. (2000). Papilionoideae Flora Zambesiaca 3(6) Page 10.

Other sources of information about Desmodium uncinatum:

Our websites:

Flora of Malawi: Desmodium uncinatum
Flora of Mozambique: Desmodium uncinatum
Flora of Zimbabwe: Desmodium uncinatum
Flora of Zimbabwe: cultivated Desmodium uncinatum

External websites:

African Plants: A Photo Guide (Senckenberg): Desmodium uncinatum
African Plant Database: Desmodium uncinatum
BHL (Biodiversity Heritage Library): Desmodium uncinatum
EOL (Encyclopedia of Life): Desmodium uncinatum
GBIF (Global Biodiversity Information Facility): Desmodium uncinatum
Google: Web - Images - Scholar
iNaturalist: Desmodium uncinatum
IPNI (International Plant Names Index): Desmodium uncinatum
JSTOR Plant Science: Desmodium uncinatum
Mansfeld World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops: Desmodium uncinatum
Plants of the World Online: Desmodium uncinatum
Tropicos: Desmodium uncinatum
Wikipedia: Desmodium uncinatum

Copyright: Mike Bingham, Annette Willemen, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Mark Hyde, 2011-23

Bingham, M.G., Willemen, A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. and Hyde, M.A. (2023). Flora of Zambia: Species information: Desmodium uncinatum., retrieved 2 October 2023

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