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Ohwia caudata


Ohwia caudata (Thunb.) H.Ohashi

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Desmodium caudatum (Thunb.) DC.
Common Name: 小槐花


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
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Rounded
Maximum Height 1 m to 2 m


Native Distribution China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Temperate
Local Conservation Status Non-native (Spontaneous (Naturalised))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Shrub with an erect growth habit, growing up to 1-2 m tall.
Crown Dense crown with many branches.
Foliage Compound leaf is composed of 3 lanceolate to oblong leaflets (5-9 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm wide) with terminal leaflet larger than lateral ones.  The petiole (1.5-4 cm long) often has narrow wings.
Flowers Greenish to yellowish white flowers are shaped like a keel. Flowers are arranged in a spike-like inflorescence known as a raceme (5-30 cm long). The rachis (inflorescence stalk) is densely covered in soft hairs, and flowers are arranged in pairs along the rachis.
Fruit Brown, furry pods are linear, narrow and flattened (5-7 cm long). Pods are divided into 4-8 segments.
Cultivation This species grows best in moist, but well-drained soils. It forms a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, allowing it to grow on infertile soils. In a crop rotation system, this species can be planted to add nitrogen to the soil.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal: According to Chinese folk medicine, the whole plant (especially the roots) can be used to treat digestion-related problems. Sasaki et al. (2012) found that the roots contain flavonoids with anti-bacterial activity effective against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (a bacterial strain resistant to the antibiotic methicillin). <2>

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Rootzone Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils
Propagation Method Seed


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Compound (Trifoliate)
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Lanceolate, Oblong)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute, Acuminate
Foliar Base Cuneate

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) White
Flower Texture(s) Smooth
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary, Terminal
Flower Symmetry Bilateral
Individual Flower Shape Papilionaceous / Pea-shaped
Inflorescence Type Raceme
Flowering Habit Polycarpic

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Velvety / Furry / Tomentose
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type



<1> Lindsay, S. et al. (2022). Flora of Singapore: Checklist and bibliography. Gardens’ Bulletin Singapore 74(Suppl. 1): 3–860.

<2> Sasaki, H., Kashiwada, Y., Shibata, H., Takaishi, Y. . 2012. Prenylated flavonoids from Desmodium caudatum and evaluation of their anti-MRSA activity. Phytochemistry. 82. 136-142

Image Repository



Master ID 29606
Species ID 3915
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 March 2023.