Desmodium repandum – April 2010 Common name: Orange Desmodium

Forget the Big Five or the Tallest Tree, it's the little things in the forest that are really fascinating.

Desmodium repandum is found all over Africa and is flowering in the Midlands at the moment. Although the flowers are tiny – less than 15mm – it is hard to miss the bright orange-red inflorescence in the dappled light of the forest floor.

Usually a prostrate, trailing herb about 40-60 cm high, but as is the case with many forest plants, it scrambles up other shrubs when the opportunity presents itself, reaching heights of 1.4m. The trifoliate leaves are particularly striking, the area around the midrib and veins is an almost silvery green in contrast to the darker edges.

The small bluish pods are covered in hooked hairs which makes them stick to clothing and animal fur. The leaves and roots are used in medicines and the leaves are valued as fodder in some places in Africa.

Click on any of the links below to see another Dargle wildflower