Lespedeza leptostachya (Prairie Bush Clover)
|Also known as:||Prairie Lespedeza, Slender-spike Lespedeza|
|Habitat:||sun; dry prairies|
|Bloom season:||July - August|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are loosely borne on slender spikes, 1 to 3 inches long, on a slender hairy stalk arising from leaf axils on the upper stem. Flowers are small and pea-shaped, white to pale pink lips with a reddish throat, ¼ to 1/3 inch long. The calyx holding the flower is about ¼ inch long and densly hairy, with long narrow sharply pointed lobes.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound in groups of 3, on a short stalk. Leaflets are linear to narrowly oblong and of equal size, ¾ to 1¾ inches long, 1/10 to 1/3 inch wide, and toothless. The plant form is slender but stiff and erect, stems minimally branched, all portions covered by short, sparse, velvety hairs (pubescent),
Notes:One of Minnesota's four federally listed plant species, Prairie Bush Clover is endemic to just small regions of Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. While probably never widespread even prior to European settlement, the wholesale loss of prairie habitat quickly pushed this species to the edge. According to the DNR, this species was listed as State Endangered in 1984 and reclassified to Threatened in 1996.
Where to buy native seed and plants
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- Prairie Bush Clover plant
- view from the top
- more flowers
- Prairie Bush Clover with Round-headed Bush Clover
Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Dakota and Goodhue counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?