Family • Fabaceae / Leguminosae - Desmodium pulchellum (L.) Desv. - Pai qian cao

Scientific names

Desmodium pulchellum (L.) Desv.
Desmodium pulchellum Linn.
Hedysarum pulchellum Linn
Dicerma pulchellum DC.
Zornia pulchella Pers.
Phyllodium pulchellum Desv.
Meibomia pulchella O. Kuntze

Common names

Gaan-gaan (Sul.)
Kalaikai (C. Bis.)
Kalaykay (C. Bis.)
Payang-payang (Tag.)
Angel’s locks (Engl.)
Pai qian cao (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

BENGALI: Jutasalpani.
CAMBODIAN: Ang-prom, Prae kraoy.
CHINESE: Pai qian shu, Huan ye xiao huai hua, Long lin cao, Pai qian cao, Jian ye a po qian, Wu shi ye, Lin wan zii shu, Ya po qian.
HINDI: Jatsalpan.
INDONESIAN: Apa-apa, Apa-apa sapi, Ketipes.
LAOTIAN: Ked linz no:yz.
MALAYSIAN: Serengan kechil.
SANSKRIT: Lodhrah, Lodram.
TELUGU: Karrantinta, Kondontinta, Sarivi.
THAI: Klet plaa chon, Yaa song plong, Yaa klet lin.
VIETNAMESE: Chu[oox]i ti[eef]n, d[oof]ng ti[eef]n.

Payang-payang is an erect undershrub, 0.5 to 1.5 meters in height. Leaves are 3-foliate. Leaflets are finely hairy beneath, the terminal one being oblong, 8 to 13 centimeters long, and more than twice as large as the two lateral ones. Inflorescence is terminal and axillary, and 8 to 25 centimeters long. Flowers are white and about 6 millimeters long, umbellate or fascicled, hidden by the distichous, orbicular bracts, which are 1 to 1.5 centimeters in diameter. Stamens are 10, upper one free, other 9 united. Ovary is few- to many-ovuled, superior. Fruits are pods, oblong, hairy and usually of 2, rarely 1- or 3 joints.


– Common in open thickets, waste places, etc., in settled areas at low and medium altitudes from northern Luzon to Palawan and Mindanao.
– Also occurs in India to China and Taiwan and southward to tropical Australia.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Physcion 1-glycosyl rhamnoside from seeds of Desmodium pulchellum / R D Tiwari and R K Bansai / Phytochemistry • Volume 10, Issue 8, August 1971, Pages 1921-1922 / doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(00)86458-4

(2) Ethonobotany of Sujen–A local rice beer of Deori tribe of Assam / Chaya Deori et al / Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. Vol 6(1), January 2007, pp 121-125

(3) List of psychoactive plants / Wikipedia

(4) Phyllodium pulchellum (L.) Desv. / Vernacular names / GLOBinMED

(5) Studies on the anti-diarrheal properties of leaf extract of Desmodium puchellum / Md. Khalilur Rahman, Soumitra Barua, Md. Fokhrul Islam, Md. Rafikul Islam, Mohammed Abu Sayeed, Mst. Shahnaj Parvin, Md. Ekramul Islam* / Asian Pac J Trop Biomed 2013; 3(8): 639-643 / doi: 10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60129-X

(6) DESMODIUM PULCHELLUM Benth. / Medicinal Plants of Bangladesh

(7) CHEMICAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL EVALUATION OF DESMODIUM PULCHELLUM / S. Ghosal, S. K. Banerjee, S. K. Bhattacharya, A. K. Sanyal / Planta Med 1972; 21(4): 398-409 / DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1099570

(8) Traditional Uses Of Plants By The Tribal Communities Of Salugu Panchayati Of Paderu Mandalam, Visakhapatnam, District, Andhra Pradesh, India. / S.B.Padal, P. Chandrasekhar & Y. Vijakumar / International Journal of Computational Engineering, Research, Vol, 03, Issue 5


Parts utilized 
Roots, bark, flowers and leaves.
Collect leaves from May to October, roots the whole year round.
Rinse, cut into sections or pieces, sun-dry.

Tart and cooling.
Considered anthelminthic, antipyretic and anticontusion.

– Study yielded a new glycoside, the 1-glucosylrhamnoside of physcion from the seeds of D pulchellum.
– Contains tryptamines.
– Roots yield betulin, a-amyrin, and ß-sitosterol.
– Study yielded fifteen simple indolic bases (I-XV) with three broad structural types, viz., indole-3-alkylamine, ß-carboline, and tetrahydro-ß-carboline. Fruits showed the major accumulation of Nb-oxides while the roots localized the quarternary bases.


· In the Philippines, leaves are applied to ulcers.
· In Java, the leaves are applied to pocks.
· Decoction of dried leaves used for colds and fever.
· Decoction of dried roots used for malaria, swelling and enlargement of liver and spleen, rheumatism,bone pains, and swelling due to contusion or sprain.
· Decoction of charred roots used for excessive menstrual flow.
· Malays use a decoction of roots after childbirth.
· Decoction of bark for diarrhea, eye afflictions.
· Decoction of bark used for hemorrhages, diarrhea, poisoning, and eye diseases.
· Decoction of flowers for bile and liver afflictions.
· In India, paste of root mixed with sugar candy used for abdominal and chest burning discomforts.
· In Bangladesh, bark decoction used in hemorrhage diarrhea, poisoning and eye diseases. Flowers used in biliousness.
· In Andhra Pradesh, India, leaves used for wounds.


· In India, the leaves of D pulchellum is one of 20 plant species used by the Deori tribe for the preparation of Mod pitha, a natural starter for the brewing of Sujen, a local rice beer.

Study Findings
• Pharmacologic effects: Effects of the extract from Desmodium pulchellum in rats – Study of extracts on mice showed major effects on motor, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. The bark extract showed to be most potent.
• Alkaloid Effects on Collagen: Study showed the total alkaloid of Desmodium pulchellum could restrain collagen protein I, III, IV and synthesis of TGF ß1 for hepatic fibrosis in mouse liver.
• DMT: Many of the psychedelic plants contain dimethyltrptamine. Desmodium pulchellum contains 0.2%
5-MeO-DMT, small quantities of DMT. DMT dominates in seedlings and young plants, while 5-MeO-DMT dominates in mature plant (whole plant, roots, stems, leaves, flowers).
• Anthelmintic: Study on effects of D. pulchellum’s root extract showed the herb may have an antihelmintic effect on the fluke Opisthorchis viverrini in hamsters.
• Behavioral Effects: Study of extract of D. pulchellum in mice showed an activity mediated via the serotonergic system and suggested a potential for the extract as a useful antidepressant.
• Anti-Hepatofibrotic: Study showed Desmodium pulchellum extract has anti-hepatic fibrotic effects on rats with hepatic fibrosis induced by CCl4. The mechanism may be through increasing the liver cell immunity against injury and indirectly reducing the formation of liver collagen protein.
• Anti-Diarrheal / Leaf Extract: Study evaluated a methanol and petroleum ether extract for activity against castor oil-induced diarrhea and enteropooling and intestinal motility in rats. Results showed significant reduction of diarrheal severity and significant reduction of intestinal volume. Both fractions showed active ingredients, but the ethanol fraction showed better potential.