Sericea lespedeza

Encyclopedia Article

Sericea lespedeza                 Lespedeza cuneata (Dum. Cours.)  G. Don

Family:   Fabiaceae (Bean family)
Life cycle:  Perennial reproducing by seed.
Habitat:  Pastures, prairies, roadsides.  More common in southern Iowa. A relatively recent introduction, it is rapidly spreading in the state at this time.
Native status:  Introduced for forage and for soil reclamation in the southern US.

General description:  Erect, bushy perennial reaching heights of 2 to 5 ft. Trifoliate leaves with short petiole, leaflets club or wedge-shaped, ¼ to 1 in long.  The end of the leaf is round or flat with a conspicuous tip at the point. Leaves are dense, and decrease in size moving up the stem. Small, white-yellow flower occur in clusters of 1 to 3 in upper leaf axils.

Key ID traits:  Densely leaved stems; wedge shape leaflets with point at tip

Similar species:   Several native and introduced lespedeza are found in the Midwest.Slender lespedeza is most similar to sericea lespedeza, but its leaflets are linear or elliptical without the point at tip.

Miscellaneous:  Was introduced as a forage species and for cover on rights-of-ways.  Seed can still be purchased, but the plant is listed as a noxious weed in several states (not Iowa).  Also called Chinese lespedeza and Chinese bush clover.  One of the most damaging plants in prairie restorations.

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Trifoliate leaves with club shaped leaftets with point at tip.


Leaves are closely space on branched, woody stems.


Sericea lespedeza (dark plant) invading roadside in Warren County, IA.

 

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