Biological Name:

Lespedeza: Lespedeza spp.

Natural Habitat:

The natural habitat of Lespedeza is likely grassy areas, such as fields, pastures, and roadsides, in temperate regions of the world.


Lespedeza is a type of flowering plant that is commonly found in fields and other grassy areas. It is a member of the Fabaceae family which also includes plants such as beans and peas. Lespedeza is an annual or perennial plant that produces small white or pink flowers and clusters of seeds. The plant is often used as a cover crop to improve soil health and suppress weeds. It is also known for its ability to tolerate a wide range of growing conditions including wet or dry soils. In some areas lespedeza is considered a weed because of its ability to invade cultivated areas and cause allergies and other health problems.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is lespedeza good for?
A: Lespedeza can be used as a forage crop for grazing, hay, or soil stabilization (erosion control and land reclamation) (Figure 1). Compared to other popular legumes, such as clovers, lespedeza is a little-known forage.

Q: Will deer eat lespedeza?
A: The flowers are visited by a variety of native bee species as well as some butterflies. The plants are high in protein and eaten by many herbivores both wild (e.g. deer, rabbits, groundhogs) and domestic (e.g. cattle, goats).

Q: Is lespedeza good for bees?
A: Lespedeza species are wild meadow plants that are useful to bees and birds. They are not suited as a border plant in an ordered perennial garden. As with most pea family plants it adds nitrogen to the soil. Often visited by pollinators, this bush clover grows in dry, sunny areas.

Q: Can horses eat lespedeza?
A: Lespedeza is therefore appropriate for most horses with elevated nutrient needs—young horses, certain broodmares, and those that require calories to fuel performance or improved body condition, according to Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., nutrition advisor at Kentucky Equine Research(KER).

Q: Is lespedeza good for hay?
A: Sericea lespedeza is a long-lived, deep-rooted, drought resistant perennial that will grow on heavy, well-drained soils throughout the state. It grows erect, with stems 2 – 4 ft tall and can be used for grazing, hay, or soil conservation.

Q: Is lespedeza annual or perennial?
A: Annual lespedeza will grow in most types of soil that are well drained. Lespedezas tolerate low fertility, yet respond to lime and phosphorus. Annual lespedeza is best suited to a pH of 5.5 – 6.0, but can produce good yields with pH levels as low as 5.0.

Q: Can you frost seed lespedeza?
A: Lespedeza can be seeded at 8 to 10 pounds per acre. Ryegrass (forage type) can be seeded at 8 to 10 pounds per acre and orchardgrass at 3 to 4 pounds per acre. With proper management and cooperation from Mother Nature, frost seeding is an economical, effective way to improve the quality and quantity of pastures.

Q: Is lespedeza an invasive species?
A: Chinese or Sericea lespedeza was introduced in the late 1800s by federal and state agencies for use in bank stabilization, erosion control, soil improvement, mine reclamation, forage, hay and other purposes. It has been escaping from plantings for many years and is a well established invasive plant.

Q: Is lespedeza good for goats?
A: Research has shown that sericea lespedeza can be a cost-effective natural dewormer and nutritional feed resource for sheep and goats whether grazed or fed as hay, leaf meal, or pellets.

Q: What are the worst invasive plants?
A: Kudzu. 1/16. Commonly seen vining throughout the southeastern United States, the perennial kudzu originally hails from Asia. … English Ivy. 2/16. … Wisteria. 3/16. … Barberry. 4/16. … Butterfly Bush. 5/16. … Purple Loosestrife. 6/16. … Norway Maple. 7/16. … Japanese Honeysuckle. 8/16.

Q: How do I get rid of lespedeza?
A: Triazine herbicides effectively control common lespedeza and related species with postemergence applications in warm-season grasses. Atrazine (like Bonus S) may also be applied to actively growing centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass for selective postemergence lespedeza control (Table 3).

Q: Will cattle eat lespedeza?
A: Sericea is not a preferred plant of cattle. When it emerges in early spring, cattle will graze the young succulent plant growth. As the season progresses and the temperature increases, the tannin content of the plant will accelerate and at this stage it is almost completely avoided by cattle.

Q: What herbicide kills sericea lespedeza?
A: Sericea Lespedeza is in the process of setting flowers, which is a prime time to apply herbicides and get effective control. After sericea has flowered and up until the first freeze, metsulfuron (marketed under Escort, Ally, Cimarron, and other trade names) is the herbicide of choice for control.

Q: What is the common name of lespedeza?
A: Lespedeza cuneata is a species of flowering plant in the legume family known by the common names Chinese bushclover and sericea lespedeza, or just sericea. It is native to Asia and eastern Australia and it is present elsewhere as an introduced species and sometimes an invasive plant.

Q: What kills sericea lespedeza?
A: If grazing is not an option, apply a herbicide containing triclopyr or triclopyr+ fluroxypyr to vegetative growth from June to mid-July, and/or herbicides containing metsulfuron to developing flowers from mid-July to late-September.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.