Morphological description. Prostrate perennial, multi-branching, strongly stoloniferous stems, rooting freely from stolons and lower nodes of aerial stems. Stems angular, reddish-brown, tomentose, the brown hairs 1.5–2.0 mm long. Stolons become woody with age and practically glabrous. Height rarely exceeds 15–20 cm. Leaves trifoliate, stalk of the terminal leaflet (4–5 mm long) four to five times longer than those of lateral leaflets. Terminal leaflet (15–20 mm long and 10–15 mm wide) larger than lateral leaflets (12–15 mm long and 8–10 mm wide). Leaves stipulate, the stipules long (4–6 mm), tapering, with hairy margins and parallel venation. Leaflets subtended by four inconspicuous stipules, obovate, margins entire, apex slightly emarginate, reticulate venation, densely pubescent (hairs whitish coloured) on both dorsal and ventral surface. Petioles angular, 10–15 mm long, reddish-brown, and covered with brown hairs. Flowers small (3–5 mm long), pink, giving rise to a 3–6 jointed, undulate (on dorsal edge) pod, which fractures at the joints on maturity. Pods 12–25 mm long, 4–5 mm wide, finely pubescent. Segments break and stick to hair or clothing when ripe (hence name of tick trefoil). Seeds kidney shaped 2.25–2.50 mm long and 1.50–1.75 mm wide, yellowish brown turning dark brown with age; seed coat glabrous .
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Desmodium heterophyllum. Photo copyright © 2013 by Chris Gardiner.