Chinese Bushclover, Sericea Lespedeza, Sericea, Chinese Bush Lespedeza
(Lespedeza cuneata var. cuneata)
Synonyms of Lespedeza cuneata (2) (Updated on 12-23-22 from Plants of the World Online): Anthyllis cuneata Dum.Cours., Aspalathus cuneata (Dum.Cours.) D.Don
Synonyms of Lespedeza cuneata var. cuneata (14) (Updated on 12-23-22 from Plants of the World Online): Anil chinensis (Vogel) Kuntze (1891), Hedysarum sericeum Thunb. (1784)(nom. illeg.), Indigofera chinensis Vogel (1843), Lespedeza argyraea Siebold & Zucc. (1845), Lespedeza cuneata f. flava Hayashi (1974), Lespedeza juncea var. glabrescens Franch. (1890), Lespedeza juncea subsp. sericea (Miq.) Steenis (1955), Lespedeza juncea var. sericea (Miq.) F.B.Forbes & Hemsl. (1887), Lespedeza juncea f. subsessilis (Miq.) A.Pramanik & Thoth. (1983), Lespedeza juncea var. subsessilis Miq. (1867), Lespedeza royleana Miq. (1867), Lespedeza sericea Miq. (1867), Lespedeza sericea var. latifolia Maxim. (1873), Lespedeza sericea f. typica Schindl. (1913)(not validly publ.)
Lespedeza cuneata (Dum.Cours.) G.Don is the accepted scientific name for this species of Lespedeza. It was named and described as such by George Don in A General History of the Dichlamydeous Plants in 1832. It was first named and described as Anthyllis cuneata by George(s) Louis Marie Dumont de Courset in Le Botaniste Cultivateur in 1811.
Accepted Infraspecific Names (2) (Updated on 2-11-22 from Plants of the World Online): *Lespedeza cuneata var. cuneata (autonym), Lespedeza cuneata var. serpens (Nakai) Ohwi (1953). *When infraspecific taxa are named, an autonym (“type-specimen”) is automatically generated whose description is closest to the (original) species. All have their own list of synonyms…
The genus, Lespedeza Michx., was named and described as such by André Michaux in Flora Boreali-Americana in 1803.
As of 12-23-22 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online lists 45 species in the Lespedeza genus. It is a member of the plant family Fabaceae with 780 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.
The above distribution map for Lespedeza cuneata is from the USDA Plants Database. Areas in blue show where the species has been introduced.
The above distribution map for Lespedeza cuneata is from Plants of the World Online. Areas in green show where the species is native and purple where it has been introduced other than North America. The map on POWO is not up to date for North America because they use maps from Flora of North America. FNA hasn’t included members of the plant family Fabaceae YET, but once they do, POWO will update their maps.
The map on iNaturalist shows where members have made observations. Anyone can join and it is a great website to confirm and share your observations. The maps on iNaturalist are continually updated as members post new observations.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING AND TO HELP WITH A BETTER POSITIVE ID.
I have seen this plant growing along the back of the lane that runs along the hayfield on the farm for several years. I didn’t know what it was nor had I taken any photos for ID. The reason was that I never saw it blooming until October 1 in 2021…
Once I did take photos of its flowers, I was able to make a positive ID using iNaturalist. Then, as I was reading about it I found out how invasive it is, or at least has the potential to become. Although there are several species on the farm that sometimes get carried away, they aren’t right out in the pasture and hayfields. This species, however, could be another story. As I mentioned, I saw it along the lane in one area for many years, but the photos on this page were taken of a smaller colony that has started growing in the front part of the main hayfield…
Apparently, Lespedeza cuneata is native to Asia and eastern Australia. It was introduced in the United States in the late 1880’s for erosion control and to plant on bare mine land, and for livestock food. From there, over the years, it has been planted in other states for similar reasons and planted along highways where road work had been done. There were other various reasons in a few states, and all seemed well. The next thing you know, this species had spread like wildfire in some areas, displacing native species… It is also believed it is “possible” this species is allelopathic which means it produces a chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants, including tree seedlings…
The stems of Lespedeza cuneata grow from multiple stems from a woody base. They may or may not be branched above the midpoint which can give them a shrubby appearance. The ridged stems and covered with lines of appressed or spreading hairs.
The trifoliate leaves grow in an alternate pattern along the stems and have short petioles (stems). The leaflets are oblanceolate to oblong, tapering at the base and with a pointed tip., sometimes shallowly notched. The upper leaf surface is either hairy (pubescent) or smooth (glabrous). The lower surface is lighter green in appearance due to the silky, appressed hairs.
Clusters of 1-4 flowers grow from the axils of leaves on the middle and upper part of the stems. The flowers are creamy-white with purple markings on the petals. They bloom from August-October.
I don’t like spraying, but I don’t want invasive species on my farm either. I have enough other weeds that can get out of hand as it is.
I have enjoyed photographing and learning about the many wildflowers growing on the family farm and in other areas. The farm is in Windsor, Missouri in Pettis County (Henry County is across the street, and Benton and Johnson aren’t far away). I have grown over 500 different plants and identified over 200 species of wildflowers (most have pages listed on the right side of the page). I am not an expert, botanist, or horticulturalist. I just like growing, photographing, and writing about my experience. I rely on several websites for ID and a few horticulturalists I contact if I cannot figure them out. Wildflowers can be somewhat variable from location to location, so sometimes it gets a bit confusing. If you see I have made an error, please let me know so I can correct what I have written.
I hope you found this page useful and be sure to check the links below for more information. They were written by experts and provide much more information. Some sites may not be up-to-date but they are always a work in progress. If you can, I would appreciate it if you would click on the “Like” below and leave a comment. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. You can also send an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you especially if you notice something is a bit whacky.
FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
INTERNATIONAL PLANT NAMES INDEX (GENUS/SPECIES)
FLORA OF MISSOURI (GENUS/SPECIES)
USDA PLANTS DATABASE
USDA FOREST SERVICE
MISSOURI DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-WEED ID GUIDE
KANSAS WILDFLOWERS AND GRASSES
NORTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY
MARYLAND BIODIVERSITY PROJECT
INVASIVE PLANT ATLAS
KANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
NOTE: The data (figures, maps, accepted names, etc.) may not match on these websites. It depends on when and how they make updates and when their sources make updates. Some websites have hundreds and even many thousands of species to keep up with. Accepted scientific names change periodically and it can be hard to keep with as well. Some of the links may use a name that is a synonym on other sites. In my opinion, Plants of the World Online by Kew is the most reliable and up-to-date plant database and they make updates on a regular basis. I make updates “at least” once a year and when I write new pages or add new photos but I do get behind. We are all a work in progress. 🙂