Leadplant

Photo by Jim Mason

Common Name: Leadplant

Scientific Name: Amorpha canescens

Family: Bean

Longevity: Perennial Shrub

Height: 2 - 4 Feet

Bloom Period: June and July

 

Description: This shrubby plant has leaves with 35-41 leaflets arranged alternately on the stem. Leaves are covered with soft hairs. Small, dark purple flowers are crowded on 2½-4 inch spikes.

Comments: The common name Leadplant and the species name canescens refer to the silvery-grey, lead-like appearance of the leaves. The genus name Amorpha, Greek for “deformed,” refers to the flowers that have only one petal folded around the inner flower parts. The dried leaves were used for medicine and tea by the Plains Indians. Historically, Leadplant was extremely abundant on Kansas prairies. It is one of our most important native legumes. Roots can extend more than 15 feet into the soil. Leadplant is palatable to all classes of livestock. It grows in well-drained prairie soils and is found in the eastern three-quarters of the state.