Lespedeza stipulacea Maxim.

Lespedeza stipulacea plant

Family - Fabaceae

Stems - Multiple from base, from a taproot, erect to ascending or decumbent, herbaceous, purplish, branching, to 45cm long or tall, antrorse strigose (sometimes only in lines from beneath leaf petiole).

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, stipulate, trifoliolate. Stipules membranaceous, tan, drying quickly, ovate-lanceolate, striate-nerved, to +8mm long, 3-4mm broad at base, acuminate, glabrous, mostly entire but often with a few very minute teeth at the apex. Petiole green but with a red base, antrorse strigose, to +/-5mm long. Petiolules to 1mm long, reddish, antrorse pubescent. Leaflets obovate, to 15mm long, 8-9mm broad, mostly entire, truncate to rounded at the apex, mucronate, ciliate-margined, glabrous above, with a few cilia on midrib below, with distinctive striate venation.

Lespedeza stipulacea leafLeaf with evident venation.

Lespedeza stipulacea stipuleStipule.

Lespedeza stipulacea stipuleStipule again.

Inflorescence - Axillary flowers in crowded lateral branches. Pedicels 1-1.5mm long, green, with a few cilia or not. Calyx subtended by 3 minute bracts. Bracts ovate, greenish-white, entire, 1mm long, .6mm broad.

Flowers - Calyx green, bilabiate. Calyx tube to 2mm long, glabrous. Lower 3 lobes rounded at apex, 1mm long, .8mm broad. Upper lobe 1.1mm long and broad, slightly notched at apex, broadest at the apex. All lobes glabrous.

Lespedeza stipulacea flower

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Dry open woods, waste places, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to Asia.

Other info. - This little species can be found throughout Missouri. The plant is a nasty invasive and should not be willingly spread. L. stipulacea was brought to North America in 1919 as cover crop and fodder for cattle and has spread quickly. Wildlife enjoys eating its small fruits.
L. stipulacea is very much like another species, L. striata (Thunb.) H. & A., but differs in having antrorse hairs on its stems. L. striata has retrorse hairs on its stems.

Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 8-24-02.


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