Amorpha canescens Pursh

Lead Plant

Amorpha canescens plant

Family - Fabaceae

Stems - To 1m tall, ascending to erect, from rhizomes or a woody crown, woody below, multiple from base, typically simple, canescent above, sparsely pubescent to glabrescent below, striate-nerved.

Amorpha canescens stem

Leaves - Alternate, odd-pinnate, stipulate. Stipules linear, purplish, fugacious, to 3mm long. Leaves to +/-8 cm long, the rachis canescent. Leaflets alternate to opposite, stipellate. Stipels small, (1mm long), purple, thin and dry. Petiolules to 1mm long, canescent. Leaflets entire, typically linear-oblong to lanceolate-ovate, mucronate, rounded at the base, with single midrib, canescent, to +/-1.6cm long, 5mm broad, +/-14 pairs per leaf. Terminal leaflet smaller than laterals, cuneate at base, truncate at apex, mucronate.

Amorpha canescens leafFront of leaf.

Amorpha canescens leafBack of leaf.

Inflorescence - Multiple terminal and axillary racemes, indeterminate, pedunculate, to 25cm long, near apex of stems. Axis of racemes canescent. Pedicels to -1mm long.

Amorpha canescens inflorescence

Flowers - Corolla purple-violet, of a single petal. Petal folded around other floral organs, 4-5mm long. Stamens 10, exserted, monodelphous. Filaments purple, glabrous, 5mm long. Anthers orange, .6mm broad. Style 2.5mm long, purplish, compressed, canescent. Stigma glabrous, 3-lobed, purplish. Ovary superior, green, .75mm long, with floccose hairs at apex. Calyx tube to 2mm long, with 5 lobes (teeth), canescent. Teeth to 2mm long, .5mm broad, reddish-purple, canescent.

Amorpha canescens flowersFlowers close-up.

Flowering - May - August.

Habitat - Prairies, open woods, slopes, roadsides, railroads, waste ground. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species of Amorpha is easily recognized because of its dense canescence (gray hairiness). It is cultivated because of its striking floral display and gray foliage and stems.
The fruits are small, reaching a length of 5mm. This species is also edible.
The plant shown above is form canescens, which has the typical dense pubescence. Another form, form glabrata (Gray) Fassett, has leaves which have few to no hairs on the lower surface.

Photographs taken at Lichen Glade, St. Clair County, MO., 6-16-05 and at Indigo Prairie Conservation Area, Dade County, MO., 6-18-05.