Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website


Desmodium triflorum (L.) DC.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Desmodium parvifolium Blanco, Hedysarum triflorum L.
Common Name: Creeping tick trefoil, Three-flower beggarweed, 三点金
Full Sun Moderate Water Bird-Attracting Plant Butterfly-Attracting Plant Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Leaves Shallow Media Herbaceous Plant


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

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic


Native Distribution Pantropical
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Grassland / Savannah/ Scrubland, Disturbed Area / Open Ground)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Of Uncertain Origin

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a terrestrial, annual herb that trails along the ground, often up to 50 cm long and rooting at the nodes.
Foliage Its stalked, alternate, compound leaves are trifoliate, about 1 cm long. Each heartshaped leaflet is obovate in shape, leaf tip emarginate, with the centre leaflet not more than 0.6 cm long.
Flowers Its reddish, pinkish to purplish bisexual flowers are borne singly or up to five on axillary inflorescenes.
Fruits Its fruits are slightly curved pods that are hairy, 3-5 jointed, about 1.2-1.3 cm long.
Habitat It grows in turfs, fields, open grasslands and on roadsides.
Associated Fauna Its flowers are probably insect-pollinated.
Cultivation It can be propagated by seed or stem cutting.
Etymology Greek desma, bond; head-band, Greek odes, like, possibly referring to the necklace-like pods or the sheath of the stamens. Latin triflorum, three-flowered.
Ethnobotanical Uses Medicinal ( The plant is used in Chinese medicine to treat dysentry, rheumatism and fever. A decoction of the roots is used by the Malays to treat stomachaches, while a poultice is used for treating skin problems. The plant is also used in Indonesia and the Philippines to treat wounds and ulcers.)

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It is suitable as a groundcover as it grows in thick clumps.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Shallow Media (8 -10cm), Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Groundcover

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna Bird Attracting, Butterfly Food Plant
Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Hairy / Hirsute, Thin
Foliar Type Compound (Trifoliate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate, Spiral
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Emarginate
Foliar Base Acute

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Botryophora, Pink, Purple, Red
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Flower Symmetry Bilateral

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown, Green
Mature Fruit Texture(s) Hairy / Hirsute
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Legume / Pod

Image Repository



Master ID 31246
Species ID 5641
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: 21 March 2022.