Tephrosia spicata

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Tephrosia spicata
Tephrosia spicata Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae ⁄ Leguminosae
Genus: Tephrosia
Species: T. spicata
Binomial name
Tephrosia spicata
(Walter) Torr. & A. Gray
TEPH SPIC dist.jpg
Natural range of Tephrosia spicata from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Spiked hoarypea

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Tephrosia spicata var. semitonsa Fernald.[1]

Variations: Cracca spicata (Walter) Kuntze.[2]


"Perennial herbs and shrubs with either monopodial or sympodial branching. Leaves odd-pinnate; leaflets 7-29 or rarely 1-41, entire, glabrous or pubescent above and always pubescent beneath, usually with prominent, parallel, secondary veins, estipellate, inflorescences terminal, axillary or apparently opposite a leaf, more or less racemose, with 2-10, papilionaceous, pedicellate flowers at each node with the cluster subtended by a bract and each pedicels subtended, 5-lobed, the lowers the long longest; petals clawed; stamens monadelphous or diadelphous. Legume sessile, linear, straight or slightly curved, usually compressed, nonseptate, dehiscing into 2 separate valves."[3]

"Perennial herb from a cylindric taproot; stems decumbent to erect, mostly 3-6 dm long, densely pilose or occasionally sparsely appressed pubescent. Leaves 4-12 cm long; leaflets 9-17, oblong-obovate to obovate or elliptic, 1-2.7 (3.7) cm long, 6-14 mm wide, glabrous to finely pilose above, somewhat appressed to spreading short-pubescent to pilose below. Principal inflorescences appearing opposite the leaf or terminal, 4-60 cm long, usually longer than nearest leaf, erect or upwardly curving with a terete or angled peduncle and rachis with persistent, lanceolate to linear bracts; pedicels 1-8 mm long. Calyx 6-7 mm long, sparsely to more typically densely pilose or villous; petals at first white, turning pink then carmine (drying purplish), 1.2-1.7 cm long; stamens diadelphous. Legume 3-5 cm long, 4-6 mm broad, sparsely to moderately pubescent, trichomes more than 0.6 mm long."[3]




Tephrosia spicata can be found in coastal hammocks; wiregrass/pine communities; pine savannas; mixed hardwood forests; longleaf pine-turkey oak hills; turkey oak barrens; and longleaf pine scrub oak sand ridges.[4] It has been found in human disturbed areas such as railroad beds, cut over pine flatwoods, and roadsides. Soil types include loamy sand, sandy loam, clay soil, sand, sandy peat, and sandy clay.[4]

T. spicata decreased its occurrence in response to soil disturbance by agriculture in southwest Georgia.[5] However, it increased its frequency and biomass in response to soil disturbance by clearcutting and chopping in north Florida flatwoods forests.[6]

Associated species include Phlox floridana, Calamintha dentata, Canna, Sambucus, Aristida stricta, Rhynchospora, Tephrosia floridana and T. chrysophylla.[4]

Tephrosia spicata is an indicator species for the Upper Panhandle Savannas community type as described in Carr et al. (2010).[7]


T. spicata has been observed flowering April through October with peak inflorescence in June and fruiting May through October.[4][8]

Seed dispersal

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

Fire ecology

Populations of Tephrosia spicata have been known to persist through repeated annual burns,[10][11][12] and has been found in recently burned longleaf pine communities.[4]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draf of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draf of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  3. 3.0 3.1 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. 626. Print.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: http://herbarium.bio.fsu.edu. Last accessed: October 2015. Collectors: W.P. Adams, Loran C. Anderson, Wilson Baker, C. Ritchie Bell, WM. M. CanbyA.F. Clewell, K. Craddock Burks, H.S. Daoud, ,R.A. Davidson, J.A. Duke, J. Kevin England, R.K. Godfrey, J.B. Hilmon, S.C. Hood, Clarke Hudson, C. Jackson, Ed Keppner, Lisa Keppner, R. Komarek, Mabel Kral, R. Kral, O. Lakela, Richard S. Mitchell, R.A. Norris, Kevin Oakes, R.C. Phillips, Gwynn W. Ramsey, James D. Ray Jr., H.R. Reed, A.B. Seymour, Cecil Slaughter, R.F. Thorne, Rodie White, Mary Margaret Williams. States and Counties: Alabama: Geneva, Marengo. Florida: Alachua, Bay, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Duval, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty, Leon, Madison, Marion, Pasco, Polk,Wakulla. Georgia: Grady, Thomas. Maryland: Salisbury. Mississippi: Forrest, Jackson, Marion, Newton, Ocean Springs, Pike, Poplarville. North Carolina: Rutherford, Wayne. South Carolina: Marion. Virginia: Greensville. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  5. Kirkman, L.K., K.L. Coffey, R.J. Mitchell, and E.B. Moser. Ground Cover Recovery Patterns and Life-History Traits: Implications for Restoration Obstacles and Opportunities in a Species-Rich Savanna. (2004). Journal of Ecology 92(3):409-421.
  6. Moore, W.H., B.F. Swindel, and W.S. Terry. (1982). Vegetative Response to Clearcutting and Chopping in a North Florida Flatwoods Forest. Journal of Range Management 35(2):214-218.
  7. Carr, S.C., K.M. Robertson, and R.K. Peet. 2010. A vegetation classification of fire-dependent pinelands of Florida. Castanea 75:153-189.
  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: 14 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. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  11. 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.
  12. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.