Herbs & Plants

Flemingia macrophylla

Botanical Name: Flemingia macrophylla
Family: Fabaceae alt. Leguminosae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Tribe: Phaseoleae
Subtribe: Cajaninae
Genus: Flemingia
Species: F. macrophylla

*Crotalaria macrophylla Willd.
*Flemingia angustifolia Roxb.
*Flemingia bhottea Buch.-Ham.
*Flemingia capitata Buch.-Ham.
*Flemingia congesta Roxb. ex W. T. Aiton
*Flemingia latifolia Benth.
*Flemingia nana Roxb.
*Flemingia prostrata Roxb.
*Flemingia semialata W.T.Aiton
*Moghania cumingiana (Benth.) Kuntze
*Moghania macrophylla (Willd.) Kuntze
*Moghania semialata (W.T.Aiton) Mukerjee

Common Names: Enoki-mame,

Vernacular names : Apa apa, hahapaan, Pok kepokan (Indonesia); Serengan jantan, Beringan (Malaysia); Laclay-guinan, Gewawini, Malabalatong (Philippines); Mahae-nok, Khamin naang, Khamin ling (Thailand); Tóp mo’láto, Cây dau

Habitat: Flemingia macrophylla is native to E. Asia – southern China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia. It grows
along watercourses in secondary forest, as well as under drier conditions such as in fields infested with Imperata cylindrica.

Flemingia macrophylla is a woody, perennial, deep-rooting, and leafy shrub, growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a medium rate. The main stem is prostrate or erect, with numerous stems arising from a single base. The young branches are greenish, ribbed, triangular in section and silky; while the old stems are brown, almost round in section. The leaves are trifoliate. leaflets are papery, with a glabrous upper surface. Inflorescences are densely spicate-racemose or paniculate, and bracts are foliaceous or dry, persistent or deciduous. Pods are small and turn brown when ripening; they are dehiscent, generally with two shiny black seeds in the vessel. Seeds are globular, 2–3 mm in diameter, and shiny black. The leaves are disproportionately large, hence origin of the specific name, macrophylla meaning ‘large leaved’ (Greek makros = large; phyllon = leaf)


A plant of the moist to wet tropics, where it is found at elevations from sea level up to 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 – 28°c, but can tolerate 12 – 36°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,300 – 2,200mm, but tolerates 1,100 – 3,500mm. Prefers a sunny position, but is tolerant of light shade. Capable of surviving on poorly drained soils with waterlogging. Prefers a pH in the range 5 – 7, tolerating 4 – 8. Established plants can tolerate fairly long dry spells. Tolerant of up to 4 months drought a year. Plants are moderately able to survive fires. Good weed control is required during the first 6 months of sowing since the plants are relatively slow to establish; once established, they require little attention . A two year old stand of plants with a spacing of 50cm x 400cm can produce about 6.8 tonnes of dry woody stems per hectare for fuel. Plants can be cut more frequently than every 3 months, but preferably not at intervals of less than 40 days. With an excellent coppicing capacity, the shrub will survive under this cutting regime for many years. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Edible Uses: Edible portion: Leaves, Pods, Vegetable, Seeds – flavouring. The pods are eaten.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are febrifuge and are used for treating postpartum fever and to treat paralysis and pain in the joints. A decoction of the leaves is used to bathe sores and swellings
Extracts from Flemingia species have been used as a traditional medicine for treating rheumatism.

Agroforestry Uses: The plant is grown on terraces to control soil erosion. Used as a cover and shade crop in young plantations of cocoa, sisal, coffee, banana, plantain, oil palm and rubber; it also acts as a good windbreak. The plant provides mulch for associated food crops. Owing to the slow decomposition of the leaves, the mulch has long-term effects in weed control, moisture conservation and reduction of soil temperature. Flemingia mulch forms a relatively solid layer that effectively prevents germination of weed seeds or stunts their early development for 100 days. It is grown in hedges; promising when used as a live fence. In Malaysia, it is a useful bush to plant with creeping legumes, as it provides support for them to climb on and is deep rooting. It is grown in alley-cropping systems, used in pineapple plantations to control nematode infestation. Grown as an understorey for the Honduras pine (Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis). Useful as a cover crop in perennial plantations.

Other Uses:
It is a coarse purple or orange-brown powder consisting of the glandular hairs rubbed from dry Flemingia fruit; capable of dying silk but not wool or cotton, the active component is called flemingin. The powder is used in India, the Arab world and in Africa (e.g. in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Malawi), mainly for dyeing silk and cotton a golden-yellow, but also for other purposes such as dyeing bamboo for baskets and making coloured ink. It is also used as a cosmetic by placing a small portion of the powder in the palm of the hand and moistening it with water; the hands are then rubbed together, producing a lather of a bright gamboge colour, which is applied as required. To prepare the dye, the powder is dissolved in the dye bath with an equal weight of sodium carbonate. When the temperature of the bath reaches 40 degree C. the yarns or textiles to be dyed are put into the bath and the whole is slowly heated to boiling point. To make the colour brighter, the fibre can be washed in slightly acidic water, e.g. made with lemon juice. Beautiful deep yellow or orange colours can be obtained, fast to light and acids, less so to alkaline substances. Those colours were used very frequently in combination with indigo blue in the renowned ikat textiles from Yemen. Fuel wood is a valuable by-product.

It is also often used to shade young coffee and cocoa plants, for weed suppression and soil enrichment in orchards, and to provide fuel wood and stakes for climbing crop species. However, it is considered a poor forage since its leaves have a high fibre and condensed tannin concentrations and is not readily eaten by stock. Yet it is used as dietary supplement by mixing with grasses and other legumes, particularly during dry season when regular forages are scarce.

In India it is used as a host plant to the Lac insect, and is sometimes intercropped with food crops during its establishment period. It is also one of the major sources of the resinous powder, variously known as ‘warrus’, ‘wurrus’, ‘wars’ and ‘varas’ obtained from fruits of the plant. It is a coarse purple or orange-brown powder, consisting of the glandular hairs rubbed from the dry pods, principally used for dyeing silk to brilliant orange color; the active compound for it is flemingin. In Arabia, the powder is used as cosmetic

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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