tick-trefoil, tick clover, hitch hikers or beggar lice. Desmodium







There are dozens of species and the delimitation of the genus has shifted much over time.
These are mostly inconspicuous legumes; few have bright or large flowers. Though some can become sizeable plants, most are herbs or small shrubs. Their fruit are loments, meaning each seed is dispersed individually enclosed in its segment. This makes them tenacious plants and some species are considered weeds in places. They have a variety of uses, as well.
Several Desmodium species contain potent secondary metabolites. They are used aggressively in agriculture in push-pull technology. Tick-trefoils produce high amounts of antixenotic allomones - chemicals which repel many insect pests - and allelopathic compounds which kill weeds. For example, D. intortum and D. uncinatum are employed as groundcover in maize and sorghum fields to repel Chilo partellus, a stem-boring grass moth. They also suppress witchweeds such as Asiatic witchweed (Striga asiatica) and purple witchweed (S. hermonthica).
Tick-trefoils are generally useful as living mulch and as green manure, as they are able to improve soil fertility via nitrogen fixation. Most also make good animal fodder.
Some Desmodium species have been shown to contain high amounts of tryptamine alkaloids, though many tryptamine-containing Desmodium species have been transferred to other genera.
DMT and 5-MeO-DMT occur in all green parts of D. gangeticum, as well as the roots. D. triflorum roots contain DMT-N-oxide.[citation needed]
The caterpillars of the Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis) and the Two-barred Flasher (Astraptes fulgerator) feed on tick-trefoils. Deer also appear to rely on some species in certain areas, particularly during the more stressful summer months.
Use in pharmacy[edit source | editbeta]
Some Desmodium species are used in traditional African medicine, and are also used in Western alternative medicine. Research shows it can provide a protection of the liver, probably due to the presence of flavonoids in the plant.

all Photos by Christopher Stokes / © Christopher Stokes 2012
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