Lespedeza angustifolia

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Lespedeza angustifolia
Lesp angu.jpg
Photo by Guy Anglin, Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae
Genus: Lespedeza
Species: L. angustifolia
Binomial name
Lespedeza angustifolia
(Pursh) Elliott
LESP ANGU dist.jpg
Natural range of Lespedeza angustifolia from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: narrow-leaved lespedeza[1]

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: [1]

Varieties: Lespedeza hirta var. intercursa Fernald[1]


“Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs. Leaves pinnately 3-foliate; leaflets entire, stipellate; stipules persistent, setaceous to ovate-lanceolate. Inflorescence usually few-to-many-flowered, loose to compact, sessile to long-pedunculate, axillary or terminal, spicate, racemose, capitate, or rarely paniculate cluster; pedicels subtended by a bract and with a pair of inconspicuous bractlets immediately beneath the flower. Both apetalous (cleistogamous) and petaliferous (Chasmogamous) flowers present in most species, but the apetalous flower are more readily detected and more abundant in some species than others. Calyx persistent in fruit, the tube campanulate to cylindric with 5 nearly equal lobes or the upper 2 partly united and shorter; corolla papilionaceous, violet, purplish, roseate, yellow or whitish; stamens diadelphous, 9 and 1. Legume 1-seeded, indehiscent, sessile or stalked, flattened, elliptic, ovate, or orbicular.” [2]

“Erect perennial 0.3-1.2 (1.8) m tall, above usually densely strigillose or weakly to strongly spreading, short-pubescent, or even short-pilose. Densely strigillose to glabrate below. Leaflets narrowly oblong-elliptic to linear, (1.2) 2-6 cm long, 4-12X as long as wide, glabrous to more commonly densely appressed short-pubescent or strigillose above and densely strigillose beneath; stipules very narrowly linear to linear-subulate. Racemes spicate, or rarely globose, numerous, loose to compact, 0.7-3 cm long; peduncles ca. (0.5) 1-5 cm long, typically equaling or longer than the subtending leaves; peduncles and axes densely spreading short-pubescent; pedicels 1-2 mm long. Calyx densely spreading puberulent, lobes 4-6 mm long and nearly as long on the calyx; petals yellowish, the standard 5-7 mm long bearing a purplish spot. Legume densely spreading short-pubescent, broadly elliptic to oblong-obovate, 4-6 mm long, nearly equaling the calyx in length.” [2]


L. angustifolia ranges from Massachusetts to peninsular Florida, then west to Mississippi. It is a southeastern Coastal Plain endemic with rare disjunct populations in North Carolins, Georgia, and Tennessee.[1]



Lespedeza angustifolia habitats include sandhills, pine flatwoods, and oldfield pinelands, as well as dry pond margins and open flood plains on areas that are mesic to excessively well-drained.[3] A study exploring longleaf pine patch dynamics found L. angustifolia to be most strongly represented within stands of longleaf pine that are between 130-250 years of age.[4] L. angustifolia is strongly associated with hydric habitats[5] because of a higher tolerance for periodically inundated soil conditions.[6] It is documented to occur in dried sinkhole ponds.[3] Soils include sand and sandy loams, including Ultisols, Entisols, and dry Spodosols.[7] Other soil types include red sandy clay hills and sandy peat.[3] L. angustifolia is prevalent along eroded roadsides and railroads and in disturbed high pine habitats.[3]

Plants associated include Aristida, Ctenium, Andropogon, Sporobolus, and Panicum hemitomon.[3]


L. angustifolia flowers from September to November with peak inflorescence in September.[3][8] Co-occurring populations tend to be separated from one another.[7]

Seed dispersal

This species is thought to be dispersed by consumption by vertebrates. [9]

Seed bank and germination

Species in the genus Lespedeza have a hard seed coat characteristic of species that have a persistent seed bank. Seeds of L. angustifolia remain viable in the soil for at least two years, with most germination occurring only after near-freezing temperatures of the first winter following seed dispersal.[10] Seeds of L. angustifolia have shown a 70% germination rate after two years of burial.[10]

Fire ecology

Frequent dormant season burning increased legume populations in southern pine forests, although fires during the growing season at the same frequency tended to reduce legume abundance. [6] The presence of Imperata cylindrica (cogan grass), an invasive plant found in the southeastern United States, did not deter the occurrence of L. angustifolia in plots that had been burned every 1 to 2 years in southeastern Mississippi.[11] In its natural habitat, it requires frequent fire for persistence. It is primarily located in undisturbed sites and sometimes colonizes frequently burned old-field pinelands.[7] Populations of Lespedeza angustifolia have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[12][13]


Lespedeza angustifolia is bee and Lepidopteran pollinated in chasmogamous flowers.[7]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Weakley, A.S. 2020. Flora of the Southeastern United States. Edition of 20 October 2020. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 613-8. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Loran C. Anderson, Wilson Baker, A. F. Clewell, James R. Coleman, Delzie Demaree, William B. Fox, J. P. Gillespie, Robert K. Godfrey, Gary R. Knight, R. Komarek, R. Kral, T. MacClendon, John Morrill, A. E. Radford, John K. Small. States and Counties: Alabama: Baldwin. Florida: Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Nassau, Wakulla, Washington. Georgia: Appling, Baker, Camden, Clinch, Grady, Lowndes, Miller, Seminole, Thomas, Walton, Wilcox. North Carolina: Cumberland, Harnett, Pitt. South Carolina: Sumter. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  4. Mugnani et al. (2019). “Longleaf Pine Patch Dynamics Influence Ground-Layer Vegetation in Old-Growth Pine Savanna”.
  5. Hainds, M. J., R. J. Mitchell, et al. (1999). "Distribution of native legumes (Leguminoseae) in frequently burned longleaf pine (Pinaceae)-wiregrass (Poaceae) ecosystems." American Journal of Botany 86: 1606-1614.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Hainds, M. J., R. J. Mitchell, et al. (1997). "Legume population dynamics in frequently burned longleaf pine-wiregrass fire ecosystem." Proceedings Longleaf Alliance Conference: Longleaf Alliance Report 1: 82-86.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Clewell, Andre. 2014. Personal observations.
  8. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. www.gilnelson.com/PanFlora/ Accessed: 12 DEC 2016
  9. Kirkman, L. Katherine. Unpublished database of seed dispersal mode of plants found in Coastal Plain longleaf pine-grasslands of the Jones Ecological Research Center, Georgia.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Coffey, K. L. and L. K. Kirkman (2006). "Seed germination strategies of species with restoration potential in a fire-maintained pine savanna." Natural Areas Journal 26: 289-299.
  11. Brewer, J. S. and S. P. Cralle (2003). "Phosphorus addition reduces invasion of a longleaf pine savanna (southeastern USA) by a non-indigenous grass (Imperata cylindrica)." Plant Ecology 167: 237-245.
  12. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  13. Glitzenstein, J. S., D. R. Streng, R. E. Masters, K. M. Robertson and S. M. Hermann 2012. Fire-frequency effects on vegetation in north Florida pinelands: Another look at the long-term Stoddard Fire Research Plots at Tall Timbers Research Station. Forest Ecology and Management 264: 197-209.