Lespedeza procumbens Michx.

Trailing Bush Clover


CC = 4
CW = 5
MOC = 61

© DETenaglia

Family - Fabaceae/Faboideae

Habit - Perennial forb.

Lespedeza_procumbens_habit.jpg Sprawling, mat-forming habit.

© SRTurner

Stems - Prostrate with ascending tips, mat-forming, to 1.5 m, sometimes branched below the midpoint, more often short-branched toward the tip, moderately to densely pubescent with short, spreading hairs.

Lespedeza_procumbens_stem.jpg Stem. The dense, spreading hairs differentiate this species from L. repens.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Alternate, trifoliate, stipulate. Petioles mostly relatively short and slender, 4-10 mm long, 0.2-0.7 mm wide, sparsely to densely spreading-hairy. Stipules 2-4 mm long, linear to hairlike. Leaflets 10-20 mm long, 5-15 mm wide, elliptic to broadly oblong, rounded to broadly rounded at the base, broadly rounded or minutely notched at the tip, the midvein usually extended as a minute, sharp point at the very tip, the upper surface sparsely to moderately or rarely densely appressed-hairy, the undersurface moderately to densely pubescent with curved to loosely appressed hairs. Axillary leaves absent or poorly developed.

Lespedeza_procumbens_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_procumbens_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_procumbens_leaves.jpg Pressed leaves.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescences - Axillary, also appearing terminal, unbranched or branched panicles, sometimes appearing leafy, much-exceeding the leaves. Flowers mostly 6-10 per raceme or branch, the axis not hidden by the flowers.

Lespedeza_procumbens_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescences.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_procumbens_inflorescence2.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Calyces with the tube 1.0-1.5 mm long, the lobes 1-2 mm long. Corollas papilionaceous, 5.5-7.0 mm long, pinkish purple, the banner darker purple toward the base, the wings and keel usually lighter colored below the tips, the keel about as long as or longer than the wings.

Lespedeza_procumbens_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© DETenaglia

Lespedeza_procumbens_flowers1.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_procumbens_calyces.jpg Calyces (ventral view).

© SRTurner

Fruits - Fruits from open flowers 5-6 mm long (including the stalk), the calyx covering about the lower 1/2; those from cleistogamous flowers 3.5-5.5 mm long, the calyx covering about the lower 1/3. Seeds 2-3 mm long, olive green to light brown.

Lespedeza_procumbens_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Bottomland and mesic upland forests, glades, upland prairies, streambanks, old fields, ditches, railroads, and roadsides.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Lookalikes - L. frutescens, L. repens. To a lesser extent, Kummerowia spp.

Other info. - This species can be found mainly in the southern 2/3 of Missouri, as well as much of the southeastern third of the continental U.S. The plant can be identified by its sprawling, matlike habit and inflorescences with up to 10 small flowers each, these ranging from whitish to purple. The dense spreading hairs on the stem differentiate this species from its lookalikes.

Photographs taken at Alley Springs, MO., 8-29-03, and at Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve, KS., 9-17-06 (DETenaglia); also at Holly Ridge Conservation Area, Stoddard County, MO, 8-16-2021 (SRTurner).