Sericea Lespedeza

Photo by Barry Raugust

Common Name: Sericea Lespedeza

Scientific Name: Lespedeza cuneata

 

Family: Bean

Longevity: Perennial

Height: 2 - 5 feet

Bloom Period: August, September, and October

 

Description: Erect stems are many-branched. Leaves are alternate and crowded. Whitish, ¼-inch flowers are in small clusters in the leaf axils.

Comments: Sericea Lespedeza is one of the most troublesome invasive weeds in the Flint Hills Region. Once planted as a conservation plant for erosion control and as wildlife forage, it has become a serious weed in the Flint Hills, interfering with natural ecosystem processes and decreasing plant species diversity. It is a perfect example of a species introduced with good intentions, but with unanticipated and severe consequences.

Sericea Lespedeza continues to spread. Accurate identification is important in recognizing and controlling invasive plants. There are seven native species of Lespedeza in Kansas. Sericea Lespedeza can easily be confused with desirable native plants, such as Slender Bush-clover or Roundhead Bush-clover.

Photo by Iralee Barnard

These are the features to look for when identifying Sericea: 1) tall, bushy plants, often darker than surrounding vegetation; 2) each leaf has three leaflets and each leaflet is wedge shaped, narrow at the base and blunt at the tip with parallel veins; 3) small, pea-shaped flowers are white to cream with a purple splotch; 4) mature seed pods are brown, flat and oval in outline and less than ½ inch long.