Lespedeza leptostachya

Common Names:
prairie bush-clover
Growth Habit:
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Andrea Tietmeyer
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
The Holden Arboretum
Chicago Botanical Garden

The conservation of Lespedeza leptostachya is fully sponsored.
Andrea Tietmeyer contributed to this Plant Profile.


Prairie bush clover is an herbaceous perennial that is a member of the legume family. It is endemic to Midwestern tallgrass prairies, and is known from 36 sites in 4 states. This species is currently listed as federally threatened.

This particular clover produces a single stem that can grow up to one meter tall, with typical pea-like leaves widely spaced along the stem, with three leaflets each. The stem and leaves appear somewhat silvery, as they are densely covered with fine hairs. When plants reach maturity, typically after 6-9 years, they produce pale pink flowers on open, branching stems beginning July and extending into September. Flowers can remain closed (cleistogamous) or open to admit pollinators (chasmogamous). Both types of flowers are capable of producing seeds without the aid of insect pollen transfer.

This species can often be found with its relative, the round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata). This clover is much more common, and can be distinguished from prairie bush clover because it appears to be generally larger and more robust than its rare relative. Its flowering head is composed many very tightly bunched flowers and larger, wider leaves. There has been some documentation of hybridization between these two species, but it is considered to be rare (Cole and Biesboer 1992).

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research