Desmodium uncinatum (Jacq.) DC.

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Desmodium uncinatum

Photo: Bart Wursten
Mukuvisi Woodland, office area

Desmodium uncinatum

Photo: Bart Wursten
Mukuvisi Woodland, office area

Desmodium uncinatum

Photo: Bart Wursten
Edge of camp site, Chirinda Forest

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Species details: Click on each item to see an explanation of that item (Note: opens a new window)

Common names: Silverleaf (English) Silverleaf desmodium (English) Velcro plant (English)
Frequency: Frequent
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.
Notes: Almost all parts of the plant bear hooked hairs and will readily adhere to clothing.
Derivation of specific name: uncinatum: bearing hooks, referring to the indumentum of the stems and pods.
Habitat: Widely introduced into the tropics as a pasture legume and is now often found as an invasive escape along roadsides, at the edges of woodland or riverine vegetation and even in built-up areas.
Altitude range: (metres) 700 - 1630 m
Flowering time:
Worldwide distribution: Native of South America.
Zimbabwe distribution: N,C,E
Growth form(s):
Endemic status:
Red data list status:
Insects associated with this species:
Spot characters: Display spot characters for this species
Images last updated: Monday 1 January 2007

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 Zambia: 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: Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten, Petra Ballings and Meg Coates Palgrave, 2002-23

Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T., Ballings, P. & Coates Palgrave, M. (2023). Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Desmodium uncinatum., retrieved 11 December 2023

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