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Phyllodium longipes (Craib) Schindl.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Desmodium tonkinense, Desmodium longipes
Common Name: Fish Scales, Dragon's Tongue, Klet Lin Yai (Thai), 长叶排钱树, 蝶形花科, 排钱草
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Caterpillar Food Plant Herb & Spice Ornamental Foliage Woody


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Shrub (Woody)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Shrubby
Maximum Height 1 m to 2 m


Native Distribution Southern China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Monsoon Forest, Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland)
Preferred Climate Zone Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Woody leguminous shrub, typically 1 - 2 m in overall height.
Foliage Leaves densely covered by velvety brown hairs. Terminal leaves lanceolate to oblong, 13-20 cm length, often longer than lateral leaves, prominently veined.
Stems Branchlets densely brown-pubescent.
Flowers White to creamy-yellow, small and inconspicuous, subtended by a pair of green leaf-like bracts arranged along pendulous flowering shoot. Flowers produced seasonally, Aug - Sep in native region.
Fruits Small explosive pods, jointed and downy on both sides, with small elliptical seeds, produced from Oct - Nov.
Habitat Thick monsoonal forests and thickets.
Cultivation Sun-loving, tolerates some shade, but avoid placing in deep shade. Otherwise hardy, withstands torrential monsoon rains.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Phyllodium' describes a flattened leaf-like stem, a reference to the leafy bracts enclosing the plant's flowers. Species epithet 'longipes' means 'long-stalked', alluding to the trailing inforescence shoots.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb and Spice)
[Others]: Root decoction used to treat kidney stones, bodily discomfort and cancer.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils
Landscape Uses Container Planting, General, Focal Plant
Thematic Landscaping Butterfly Garden, Naturalistic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Caterpillar Food Plant
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic (Explosive Dehiscence)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Maintenance Requirements Moderate


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth, Velvety / Furry / Tomentose, Raised / Sunken Veins
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Lanceolate, Elliptical, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White, White

Fruit, Seed & Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule

Image Repository



Master ID 631
Species ID 1926
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 20 April 2020.