Lespedeza virginica

virginia lespedeza, slender lespedeza, slender bush clover, slender bush-clover


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Attachment


Leaf Margin


Leaf Type

compound, trifoliolate

Growth Form


Flower Color


Flower Month

May - October

Height (meters)

0.3 - 1.6

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

Similar to Lespedeza capitata which is also typically unbranched but which has leaflets that are less than half as wide as long while L. virginica has linear leaflets. Lespideza are sometimes confused with Desmodium sp. but can be distinguished by their seed pods which are short, oval, usually one-seeded, and are intact at maturity while the pods of Desmodium are elongated, and break into one-seeded segments at maturity.

Cultural Information

Propagation is best by seed which require cold/moist stratification at 33-40 degrees F (1-5 C) for 10 days and scarification (Shirley 1994, Steffen 1997).

Animal Use

Desirable to cattle as forage. The following Information is for the genus Lespedeza with note that L. striatat and L. stipulacea are especially important: The animals that eat the seeds: Mourning dove, Bobwhite quail, Wild turkey. Animals that eat the plant: White-tailed deer (Martin et al. 1951).

Natural History

A warm-season, deep-rooted, perennial legume that is associated with tall grasses and is found throughout the bluestem belt on prairies and, because of its shade tolerance, wooded sites over much of the United States. It is adapted to many soil types but prefers clay loam to sandy loam soils. It is very palatable to all classes of livestock and is a sensitive decreaser under grazing (Philips Petroleum Company 1955). Where seed is available it is one of the first perennials to colonize an area. It adds nitrogen to the soil and is an excellent soil builder. It is found frequently along roadsides and in sandy, open woodlands of north and central Louisiana and east and north-central Texas.


Rocky or dry open woodlands, sandy stream valleys, thickets, prairies, and fields, roadsides.