Fish Scales
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Fish Scales
P Introduced Photo: Saroj Kasaju
Common name: Fish Scales, Dragon's Tongue • Malayalam: Seethamudi, Bala jada
Botanical name: Phyllodium longipes    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Desmodium longipes, Desmodium tonkinense

Fish Scales is a shrub, about 1 m tall. Branchlets are densely brown velvet-hairy. Leaf-stalks are about 3 mm. Leaves are trifoliate - end leaflet blade is lanceshaped or oblong, 13-20 x 3.7-6 cm, lateral ones obliquely ovate, 3-4 x 1.5-2 cm, below densely brown soft hairy, above sparsely velvet-hairy or becoming hairless, lateral veins 8-15 on each side of mid­vein, distinctly netveined veined. Flowers are 9-15, enclosed by pair of leaflike bracts; bracts obliquely ovate, 2.5-3.5 x 2-2.7 cm. Flower-stalks are 4-6 mm. Calyx is 4-5 mm, white woolly. Flowers are white or pale yellow; standard obovate, 3-9 mm, clawed; wings 7-8 mm, base eared, clawed; keel arcuate, 8-8.5 mm. Ovary 3.5-4 mm, 7- or 8-ovuled. Pod is narrowly ob­long, 0.8-1.5 cm x about 3.5 mm, seeds broadly elliptic, about 3 x 2.3 mm. Fish Scales is native to China and SE Asia, cultivated as a garden plant. Flowering: August-September.

Identification credit: Ajinkya Gadave, Aarti Khale Photographed in Kolkata & Bangalore.

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