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Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest

Slender lespedeza

  • Lespedeza virginica
  • Slender bush clover

Forb

Brood coverFood
Slender lespedeza

Slender lespedeza's growth form is characterized by long spikes topped with pink flowers. Sericea lespedeza is similar, but is more branched toward the top, with white flowers.

©Tom Barnes, University of Kentucky


 

Slender lespedeza flowers

Flowers are pink to purple and occur in clusters at the top of each stem. Leaflets occur in threes, each 1 to 1-1/2 inches long and less than 1/4 inch wide. Slender lespedeza flowers are pink to purple and occur in clusters at the top of each stem.

©Tom Barnes, University of Kentucky

Sericea lespedeza leaflets and slender lespedeza

Sericea lespedeza leaflets, left, have pinnate veins and a pointed tip. Slender lespedeza leaflets, right, have netlike veins and a rounded tip.

Rob Chapman, Missouri Department of Conservation

Seeds of slender lespedeza

Quail may eat the seeds of slender lespedeza.

Steve Hurst, USDA-NRCS Plants Database

Description

Slender lespedeza is among our most common native lespedezas in the Midwest and may be found throughout the region. Leaves are divided into three leaflets 1 to 1-1/2 inches long and less than 1/4 inch wide. Stems are upright, up to 3 feet tall. Flowers are pink to purple and occur in clusters toward the top of the plant.

Caution
This species closely resembles sericea lespedeza (L. cuneata), an aggressive introduced species that frequently displaces desirable plants and plant communities. Landowners should learn to differentiate the two and work to eradicate sericea. The easiest way to identify sericea is to hold the leaf up to the sky and observe the veins. Sericea has pinnate veins, while slender lespedeza's veins occur in a netlike pattern.

Bloom period

May to October

Use by bobwhites

Quail eat the seeds of this plant and may use it for brood rearing as well. It tends to grow on poorer soil than roundhead lespedeza and can be found on prairies, glades, savannas, woodlands and old fields. With less grass competition, seeds are often easier for quail to find.


 

MP903, new May 2008

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