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Shrubby Lespedeza Lespedeza bicolor

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
less-pe-DEEZ-a BY-kul-ur
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Shruby lespedeza is a semi-woody deciduous shrub or subshrub in the Fabaceae (bean) family native to eastern Asia and introduced to the U.S.A. in the late 1800's.  This invasive shrub was introduced for soil stabilization and in wildlife food plots but it easily spreads in openings and under forest canopies.  The plant can form dense thickets that limit forest regeneration and crowding out native vegetation.   The genus name Lespedeza is named after the Spanish Governor of West Florida Vincente Manuel de Cespedes (1784 to 1790) and the species bicolor means two colors.

It grows as an upright, open, loosely branched, arching shrub reaching a mature height and width of 5 to 10 feet. Well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade is preferred while it is very tolerant of poor, dry soils and drought.  It grows well on steep areas subject to erosion.  Avoid excess fertilizer as it becomes leggy and unkept with age and prune back heavily in early spring. With rapid growth it can reach up to 5 feet in just one growing season.

Showy pink to purple clusters of flowers appear from June to September on new growth 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious insect or diseases problems.  It is very weedy and naturalizes easily in the landscape. Clumps can be dug up and bagged in large heavy duty garbage bags so the seeds do not spread.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Little Buddy'
    dwarf variety
'Little Buddy'
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#invasive#drought tolerant#purple flowers#pink flowers#weedy#cover plant#high maintenance#erosion control#small mammals#fast growing#quail#thickets#subshrub#nesting sites#flowers mid-summer#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#flowers early fall#pea-shaped flowers
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Little Buddy'
    dwarf variety
'Little Buddy'
Tags:
#showy flowers#deciduous#invasive#drought tolerant#purple flowers#pink flowers#weedy#cover plant#high maintenance#erosion control#small mammals#fast growing#quail#thickets#subshrub#nesting sites#flowers mid-summer#poor soils tolerant#flowers early summer#flowers late summer#bird friendly#dry soils tolerant#flowers early fall#pea-shaped flowers
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Lespedeza
    Species:
    bicolor
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South Eastern Siberia to Japan
    Wildlife Value:
    Bobwhite quail use this plant for cover and nesting and birds and small mammals disperse the seeds.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 5 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Arching
    Erect
    Open
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Very Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Indehiscent flat ellptic bean pods 1/3" long with one black seed appearing from August-March
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    .5" rosy-purple pea-shaped flowers on 2-5" racemes. Blooms on current season's growth from June- September at the tops of stems and in the axils of leaves.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Blue green 3/4"-2" trifoliate leaves elliptical, alternate, entire margins come to a sharp point at the tip The undersides of leaves are light er than the top.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Erect stems are gray green
  • Landscape:
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Weedy