- Agriculture, Forestry & Soils
- Field crops, grasses, plant fibers, spices, tree crops, herbs
Tabor, Paul Soil Conservation Service, Athens, Georgia.
Last reviewed:January 2020
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A warm-season legume with trifoliate leaves, small purple pea-shaped blossoms, and one seed per pod. There are 15 American species and more than 100 Asiatic species that are categorized as lespedeza plants. Two annual species, Lespedeza striata (alternatively Kummerowia striata) and L. stipulacea (alternatively K. stipulacea), and a perennial, L. cuneata, from Asia are grown as field crops in the United States. In general, the American species are small shrubby perennials that are found in open woods and on idle land, and rarely in dense stands; they are harmless weeds. Common lespedeza, once known as Japanese clover, is a small variety of L. striata. This variety, unintentionally introduced in the United States in the 1840s and used widely until the late 1920s, has been replaced by a larger variety, Kobe. Korean lespedeza (L. stipulacea) has been widely grown in the United States since the mid-1920s and is preferred in the northern part of the lespedeza belt, from Missouri eastward, whereas Kobe is preferred in the lower part of the belt (south to the Gulf of Mexico and across northern Florida). See also: Fabales; Legume; Weeds
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