Lespedeza bicolor Turcz.

Shrubby Lespedeza


CC = *
CW = 5
MOC = 15

© DETenaglia

Family - Fabaceae/Faboideae

Habit - Shrub, with multiple stems from a woody caudex.

Stems - Erect or arching, to 3 m, 5-20 mm in diameter near the base, extensively branched, densely pubescent with appressed or somewhat spreading hairs, the hairs not confined to longitudinal ridges, nearly glabrous toward the base.

Lespedeza_bicolor_stem.jpg Stem, stiplules, pulvini.

© DETenaglia

Leaves - Alternate, trifoliate, petiolate. Primary leaves graduating into bracteal leaves, the petiole 10-90 mm long, becoming reduced above, 0.3-1.0 mm wide, glabrous or sparsely hairy. Stipules 2-7 mm long, linear-triangular to nearly hairlike. Leaflets 2-4 cm long, 0.8-2.0 cm wide, 1.5-2.0 times as long as wide, broadly elliptic, rounded at the base, rounded at the tip, occasionally with a mucro and/or a shallow notch at the very tip, the surfaces sparsely to occasionally densely pubescent with appressed hairs, the upper surface sometimes nearly glabrous. Axillary clusters of leaves absent, but side-branching extensive.

Lespedeza_bicolor_leaves2.jpg Leaves.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_bicolor_leaf1.jpg Leaf adaxial.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_bicolor_leaf2.jpg Leaf abaxial.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_bicolor_leaves.jpg Pressed leaves.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Axillary from the upper leaves, much longer than the subtending leaves, often leafy and branched, forming panicles of racemes. Flowers 12-28 per raceme or more in branched inflorescences, the axis visible between flowers.

Lespedeza_bicolor_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Papilionaceous. Calyces with the tube 1.5-2.0 mm long, the lobes 2-3 mm long. Corollas 8-12 mm long, dark rose-colored with nearly black areas near the base of the banner, rarely white, the keel much longer than the wings.

Lespedeza_bicolor_calyces.jpg Calyces.

© SRTurner

Lespedeza_bicolor_flower.jpg Flower.

© DETenaglia

Lespedeza_bicolor_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Fruits - Modified legumes, those from open flowers 6-10 mm long, the calyx covering the lower 1/4-1/2, those from cleistogamous flowers 6-7 mm long, the calyx covering about 1/4. Seeds 3-4 mm long, dark brown to purplish black.

Lespedeza_bicolor_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© SRTurner

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Cultivated fields, waste ground, roadsides.

Origin - Native to eastern Asia.

Lookalikes - L. thunbergii.

Other info. - At present, this shrubby species of Lespedeza is somewhat uncommon in Missouri, recorded from 15 widely scattered counties mostly in the eastern half of the state. Its distribution within the continental U.S. is mainly in the southeast. The plant is easy to identify, being one of only two species of lespedeza in Missouri which are shrubs. The other, L. thunbergii, has narrower leaves and slightly larger flowers. The distinctness of these two taxa in Missouri is somewhat questionable. Most specimens are morphologically close to published species boundaries, and may represent cultivated strains of hybrid origin. The plants have been used for erosion control and are often cultivated as ornamentals.

The Japanese word for this species is "Yamahagi."

Photographs taken in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Shannon County, MO., 7-29-03 (DETenaglia); also at Young Conservation Area, Jefferson County, MO, 8-30-2016 (SRTurner).