Leaves mostly appressed-pubescent upper surface, densely velutinous lower surface; inflorescence a racemose panicle
Yellow-brown velutinous young stem; pods mostly 5‒7-jointed and covered with dense yellow straight hairs and short hooked hairs
Basionym: Hedysarum velutinum Willd.; Desmodium lasiocarpum (P. Beauv.) DC.; Desmodium latifolium (Roxb. ex Ker Gawl.) DC.; Desmodium virgatum Zoll.; Hedysarum lasiocarpum P. Beauv.; Hedysarum latifolium Roxb.; Meibomia lasiocarpa (P. Beauv.) Kuntze
Family: Fabaceae (alt. Leguminosae) subfamily: Faboideae tribe: Desmodieae subtribe: Desmodiinae.
Weakly perennial, erect or semi-erect shrub or sub-shrub, up to 3 m high. Branches often dark red, yellow-brown when young, velutinous and short hooked-hairy. Leaves 1-foliolate, rarely 3-foliolate, ovate, ovate-lanceolate, triangular-ovate, or broadly ovate, 4‒20 cm long and 2.5‒13 cm wide, chartaceous to coriaceous, upper surface continuously appressed-pubescent, lower surface densely velutinous; in some populations leaves are almost glabrous and variegated. Inflorescence often dense, terminal or axillary, racemose or paniculate , 4‒10 cm long (terminal ones often broadly paniculate, to 20 cm long), with 2‒5 flowers at each node; flowers purple to pink, rarely white. Pods narrowly oblong, 1‒2.5 cm long, 2‒3 mm wide, lower suture incised between seeds, upper suture nearly straight, with dense yellow straight hairs intermixed with short hooked hairs, (3-)5‒7-jointed. Seeds ovate, flat, 1.3‒1.6 mm × 1.8‒2.5 mm, yellow when ripe. Depending on genotype, there are 320,000‒830,000 seeds per kg.
Africa: naka-buray (The Gambia); a loko u lelef, hu diukuk, hu mbélo, nétéba, nakaburé, notoba (Senegal)
Asia: 绒毛山蚂蝗 rong mao shan ma huang (China);
India: goch-biyoni-haputa (Assamese), orila (Malayalam), orila, sirupulladi, angusapadi ("orila" may also apply to D. gangeticum)
English: velvet-leaf desmodium
Africa: Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa (Limpopo), Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia
Indian Ocean: Madagascar
Asia: Bhutan, China (s.), India, Indochina, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan (s.), Thailand
Papuasia: Papua New Guinea
Incipient use as forage in cut-and-carry or grazed systems.
Adapted to a wide range of soil pH, from very acid (pH 4.0) to alkaline. Adapted to low-fertility soils. Does not tolerate poorly drained conditions.
Prefers more humid climates of 1,000 ‒ >3,000 mm rainfall/year. However, tolerates up to 4‒5 months dry season.
Has some shade tolerance as it has been found in forest verges.
Regrows well after infrequent severe defoliation in its native habitats. Regrowth potential appears to be dependent on genotype and cutting/grazing height. Suggested cutting frequency 6‒8 weeks, cutting height 40‒50 cm.
No information available.
Can be established by cuttings or through seed. For the latter, scarification is needed to break hardseededness. Distance between rows 0.6‒1.5 m, in the row 0.5‒1 m, planted with 3‒5 seeds per planting site.
In the Patía valley, Colombia, 15‒20 kg P/ha is recommended for establishment.
Since initial growth is low weed control during the establishment phase is required.
Has been established successfully with erect grasses such as Megathyrsus maximus.
Leaf eating insect larvae have been observed; no major information available.
Being a prolific seeder, is easily spread by means of pod segments sticking to the skin of grazing animals.
Being a prolific seeder, could become a weed.
Moderately palatable to cattle; higher acceptability in the dry than in the wet season.
No information available; probably none.
Annual yields are in the range 5.5‒16 t DM/ha, depending on dry season stress. DM yields of 1.5‒3 t/ha/cut are reported; up to 10 t DM/ha in 6 months under cutting on savanna soils in northern Nigeria.
No information available.
2n = 22.
A prolific seeder.
No information available.
Asare, E.O., Shehu, Y. and Agishi, E.A. (1984) Preliminary studies on indigenous species for dry season grazing in the northern Guinea savanna zone of Nigeria. Tropical Grasslands 18:148–152. bit.ly/2QT0Rnk
Kexian, Y., Lascano, C.E., Kerridge, P.C. and Ávila, P. (1998) The effect of three tropical shrub legumes on intake rate and acceptability by small ruminants. Pasturas Tropicales 20(3):31–35. bit.ly/2xrjmbU
Larbi, A., Awojide, A.A., Adenkunle, I.O., Ladipo, D.O. and Akinlade, J.A. (2000) Fodder production responses to pruning height and fodder quality of some trees and shrubs in a forest-savanna transition zone in southwestern Nigeria. Agroforestry Systems 48:157–168. doi.org/10.1023/A:1006291413670
Schultze-Kraft, R. (1996) Leguminous forage shrubs for acid soils in the tropics. In: Elgersma, A., Struik, P.C. and Maesen, L.J.G. van der (eds) Grassland science in perspective. Wageningen Agricultural University Papers 96-4. Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, the Netherlands. p. 67–81. edepot.wur.nl/282974
Schultze-Kraft, R., Peters, M., Vivas, N., Parra, F. and Franco, L.H. (2005) Desmodium velutinum - a high quality legume shrub for acid soils in the tropics. Tropical Grasslands 39:231. bit.ly/39vxvlL
None released to date. In terms of evaluation of its potential and on-farm experiences, D. velutinum is still a rather 'new' species.
CIAT 33443, CIAT 33352, CIAT 13953 (all erect), CIAT 23981 (semi-erect). Selected from a 137-accession collection evaluated at Santander de Quilichao, Colombia (CIAT research station) for edible forage yield (≥190 g DM/plant/8 weeks), drought tolerance and nutritive value (IVDMD ≥68%; CP ≥20%). CIAT 23981 particularly promising in the dry-subhumid Patía valley, Cauca, Colombia. CIAT 13953 also had the best yield across a range of acid to moderately acid soils in Costa Rica.