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Stylosanthes biflora is often confused with:
Desmodium Desmodium spp.
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Lespedeza virginica Flower
Verbena canadensis Verbena canadensis
Lespedeza capitata Form

Stylosanthes biflora

Previously known as:

  • Stylosanthes biflora var. hispidissima
  • Stylosanthes floridana
  • Stylosanthes riparia
  • Stylosanthes riparia var. setifera
Phonetic Spelling
sty-lo-SAN-theez by-FLOR-uh
Description

Pencil Flower has been called 'the cutest flower in all the land'.  Its genus is derived from the Greek stylo and anthos which translates to style flower.  That in turn refers to the stalk-like calyx tube that is surrounding the pistil of the flower. The common name pencil flower is also derived from the plant structure, resembling the wood on a pencil surrounding the lead.    

It is a native perennial wildflower in the legume family found in central and eastern USA in dry woods, fields and thickets. It is found throughout NC. The plant grows .5 to 1.5 feet tall and the yellow pea-like flowers bloom from late spring to fall, but rather sparsely. Bees pollinate the flowers and deer and rabbits will browse the leaves. There is some variation in the leaves and flowers throughout its range.

This plant prefers acidic somewhat nutrient poor soils where competition from other plants is not an issue. Like other plants in the legume family, it has the ability to make its own nitrogen, thereby surviving where other plants may not.   It grows in full sun to partial shade and is generally found in upland rocky woodlands and savannas, bluffs, prairies, fields and particularly where sandstone is present close to the ground surface.  It is generally not used in cultivation and is hard to find but could be grown in naturalized areas.

It is sometimes confused with Desmodium and Lespedeza.  The difference is in the veins on the underside of the leaflets.  On Stylosanthes biflora, the veins are lighter in color than the leaflet, while the veins on Lespedeza and Desmodium are the same color as the leaflets. 

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#NC native#wild turkeys#perennial flowers#deer browsing plant#quail#groundcover#reseeds#native wildflower#wildflower garden#dry soils tolerant#bee friendly#host plant#roadside#rabbit browsing plant#native#rabbits#perennial#butterflies#deer#herb
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#NC native#wild turkeys#perennial flowers#deer browsing plant#quail#groundcover#reseeds#native wildflower#wildflower garden#dry soils tolerant#bee friendly#host plant#roadside#rabbit browsing plant#native#rabbits#perennial#butterflies#deer#herb
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Stylosanthes
    Species:
    biflora
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    AL , AR , AZ , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MO , MS , NC , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV
    Wildlife Value:
    Host plant to Barred Yellow butterfly. Deer, quail, turkeys and rabbits are attracted to the foliage. Also attracts butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Native Plant
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Climbing
    Erect
    Horizontal
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Small seedpods will appear after the flowers bloom. Each has two segments. The first is infertile while the second contains one seed.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Irregular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Small pea-like flowers with 5 yellow petals growing singly or in small clusters at the end of the branches. Flowers late spring through fall.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Compound leaves with 3 leaflets. The upper surface is medium green while the undersides are paler with short hairs. Leaflets are .5 to 1.5 inches long and oval. Veins on the upper leaf surface may appear to be shiny.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    It has bristle-tipped, thin, wiry stems, and is branched at the base and also above the base. They can be found standing erect, climbing or in a horizontal position.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil