Lespedeza frutescens

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Lespedeza frutescens
Lesp frut.jpg
Photo and permission by Beverly Walters, © 2016 University of Michigan Herbarium Michigan Flora Online
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae
Genus: Lespedeza
Species: L. frutescens
Binomial name
Lespedeza frutescens
(L.) Hornem.
LESP FRUT dist.jpg
Natural range of Lespedeza frutescens from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Shrubby lespedeza, Violet lespedeza

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Lespedeza violacea (Linnaeus) Peersoon (misapplied); Lespedeza intermedia sensu Clewell 1966.


“Annual or perennial herbs or shrubs. Leaves pinnately 3-folioate; leaflets entire, estipellate; stipules persistent, setaceous to ovate-lanceolate. Inflorescence usually few-to-many-flowered, loose to compact, sessile to long-pedunculate, axillary or terminal, spictate, 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.” [1]

"Erect perennial with stems 2-10 dm tall, sparely to densely strigillose or more rarely ascendent-puberulent, becoming glabrate or nearly so below. Leaflets oblong to oblong-elliptic or less commonly or in the uppermost leaves elliptic, ovate, obovate or even suborbicular, the principal leaflets 1.5-4 cm long, those of the upper leaves and of the lateral branches 0.5-2 cm long, usually glabrate to sparsely strigillose or appressed short-pubescent beneath; stipules narrowly linear-subulate to setaceous, mostly less than 4 mm long. Flowers borne in dense, sessile to short-peduncles and axes sparsely to densely strigillose; pedicels of Chasmogamous flowers 1-4 mm long, those of the cleistogamous flowers 0.5-1 mm long. Calyx appressed short-pubescent to strigillose; petals purplish, wings longer than keel and nearly as long as standard. Legume reticulate, sparsely to densely strigillose, elliptic to almost orbicular, 3-7 mm long." [1]




It is found in the herbaceous cover in young Arkansas loblolly pine plantations.[2] Occurs in open, well drained sandy loam soil type habitats such as oak-pine woods, mature longleaf pine-wiregrass stand, hardwood forests, borders of upland pines, and areas that have frequent fires. [3] Is also found in human disturbed sites such as the dry, gravelly roadsides and old fields. [3]

Associated species include Triplasis americana, Agalinis purpurea, Carya, Quercus stellata, Pinus palustris, and Aristida stricta.[3]


Has been observed flowering and fruiting from August to November. [3]

Conservation and management

Cultivation and restoration

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 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. 613-7. Print.
  2. Sweeney, J. M., C. R. Wenger, et al. (1981). Bobwhite quail food in young Arkansas loblolly pine plantations. Arkansas Experiment Station bulletin 852. Fayetteville, AR, University of Arkansas, Divisionn of Agriculture, Agricultural Experiment Station.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: February 2016. Collectors: Robert K. Godfrey, A.F. Clewell, James R. Burkhalter, Roy Komarek, Norman E. Hill, Loran C. Anderson, H.R. Reed, and Sidney McDaniel. States and Counties: Florida: Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa. Georgia: Chattooga, Grady, Haralson, Heard, Thomas, Walker. Mississippi: Choctaw, Kemper, Pearl River.