A name change has been propopsed for this species, but has not yet (2015) been widely adopted and so for the time being we are maintaining the name Desmodium elegans. Hiroyoshi Ohashia and Kazuaki Ohashi, Ototropis, a Genus Separated from Desmodium (Leguminosae), J. Jpn. Bot. 87: 108-118 (2012) has proposed this species be transferred to Ototropis as Ototropis elegans (DC.) H.Ohashi & K.Ohashi.
Desmodium cinerascens Franch.
Desmodium esquirolii H.Lév.
Desmodium forrestii Schindl.
Desmodium franchetii Rehder
Desmodium glaucophyllum Pamp.
Desmodium nutans Wall.
Desmodium rhabdocladum Franch.
Desmodium spicatum Rehder
Desmodium tiliifolium (D.Don) G.Don
Hedysarum tiliifolium D.Don
Desmodium albiflorum (P.Li) H.Ohashi
Desmodium handelii Schindl.
Desmodium wolohoense Schindl.
Desmodium elegans is a very variable perennial plant, producing a cluster of erect to laxly branched stems from a woody base. The stems can become more or less woody and persist for several years. The plant can grow from 60 - 240cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials.
Desmodium elegans has a wide range, it is known to occur in protected areas and the population is believed to be stable at present. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
Asia - Afghanistan, China, Palistan, northwest India, Nepal, Bhutan, northern Myanmar
Dry grassy slopes and in glades in deodar forests; at elevations to 2,700 metres[
]. Forest margins, forests, thickets, mountain slopes, rocky places, roadsides and ditches; at elevations from 1,000 - 4,000 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
Desmodium elegans has moderate cold resistance, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -15 to -20°c when dormant[
]. It grows best in areas with long, hot summers[
Succeeds in most soils so long as they are well-drained[
]. Requires a sunny sheltered position[
Requires long hot summers to be at its best, the flowers are produced on the current years growth and do not open in cold wet seasons[
Plants send up new shoots 100 - 150cm long annually from a woody base[
]. If the plant is not cut back to the ground by winter cold then it is best to prune it hard in late winter in order to encourage better flowering[
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[
The roots are carminative, diuretic and tonic[
]. They are used in the treatment of bilious complaints[
].The juice of the root, sometimes combined with the bark juice of Bauhinia malabarica, is used in the treatment of cholera[
The juice of the bark is used in the treatment of peptic ulcers[
A fibre from the bark is used for ropes and paper making[
The wood is a good fuel[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a greenhouse. Scarify and pre-soak stored seed for 5 hours in warm water then sow early spring in a greenhouse. 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 in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer and consider giving them some protection from frost in their first winter outdoors.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, mid summer in a frame.
Division as the plant comes into growth in the spring. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.
Root cuttings in winter.