Kummerowia striata (Thunb.) Schindl.

Japanese Clover

Kummerowia striata plant

Family - Fabaceae

Stems - Prostrate, sprawling or erect, to 40cm tall, retrorse pubescent, herbaceous.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, trifoliolate. Leaflets with obvious striate venation, minutely toothed or entire, glabrous or minutely pubescent, ovate to oblong, to 2cm long. Petioles retrorse pubescent, to 3mm long. Stipules equaling or longer than petioles, brown, striate, glabrous.

Kummerowia striata leaves

Kummerowia striata stipuleStipule close-up.

Inflorescence - 1-5 flowers in axillary racemes.

Flowers - Corolla pink, purple and white, 5-8mm long, papilionaceous. Stamens diadelphous. Calyx tubular, pubescent. Pod to 4mm long, with a single seed.

Kummerowia striata flowerFlower close-up.

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Fields, pastures, open woods, streambanks, roadsides, railroads, waste ground, disturbed sites. Also cultivated.

Origin - Native to Asia.

Other info. - This plant is a favorite feed amongst "Horse folk" and cattle farmers. It was brought to this country around 1850 and has spread rapidly.
The plant has both conspicuous chasmogamous flowers and diminutive cleistogamous flowers, both of which are fertile.
The flowers are actually quite striking up close but the plant is basically too small to have much ornamental value.
K. striata is very similar to another species, K. stipulacea Maxim., but the latter has antrorse hairs on the stem as opposed to the retrorse hairs of K. striata. The Kummerowias were formerly classified in the genus Lespedeza.

Photograph taken off 500th Rd., Johnson County, MO., 9-2-99, and in Notasulga, AL., 9-24-04.