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chinese lespedezaChinese lespedeza - Lespedeza cuneata
Family: Fabaceae

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DESCRIPTION

Chinese lespedeza is a warm season, perennial herb. It has an erect growth form, ranging from about 3 to 5½ feet in height, and leaves that alternate along the stem. Each leaf is divided into three smaller leaflets, about ½ to 1 inch long, which are narrowly oblong and pointed, with awl-shaped spines. Leaflets are covered with densely flattened hairs, giving a grayish-green or silvery appearance. Mature stems are somewhat woody and fibrous with sharp, stiff, flattened bristles. Violet to purple flowers emerge either singly or in clusters of 2-4, from the axils of the upper and median leaves.

chinese lespedezaInteresting Facts

Chinese lespedeza begins growth from root crown buds at the base of last year’s stem. The flowers begin to develop in late July and continue through October. Within the Lespedeza genus there are no specialized structures for seed dispersal. Dispersal is aided by animals consuming the fruits and passing the seeds. A study on natural populations found that several species of Lespedeza comprise 1.5% to 86.8% of the annual diet of bobwhite quail in the southeastern U.S. Autumn dispersal is aided by the haying of infested fields.

Scarification is necessary for the germination of lespedeza seeds. Mature seeds of this genus remain viable for up to twenty years; one study found a germination rate of 60% after cold storage for 55 years. Seedlings may represent only 1% of the seeds actually available in the soil.


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For more information on this plant or management please contact US Army Corp of Engineers

 

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