Sericea Lespedeza
Lespedeza cuneataFabaceae
Photos (c) Cheryl Comeau Beaton unless otherwise noted


  • Chinese lespedeza, Chinese bushclover, Himalayan bushclover
  • Lespedeza juncea var. sericea, L. sericea

The Plant:

  • A shrubby, herbaceous perennial, 3-6 feet tall.

The Leaves:

  • compound leaf with three oblong leaflets, 1 inches long
  • wedge-shaped leaf bases
  • short petioles
  • gray-green
  • dense, flat hairs
  • leaves rounded with small pointed tip

The Stem:

  • branching
  • ascending stems
  • numerous
  • tall

The Flowers:

  • Creamy white, purple streaked, short, five-petaled flowers growing in solitary or in clusters of up to four. Blooms from July to October.

The Fruits:

  • pods are glabrous or have small hairs
  • seeds flat, shiny, oval
  • tan, olive, purple, or brownish

The Habitat:

  • prairies, fields
  • pond borders, swamps, marshes
  • open woods and disturbed areas


  • seeds are animal dispersed
  • possibly included in wildflower seed packets

Key ID Features:

  • cream colored flowers with purple veins
  • branching stems
  • wedge-shaped leaf bases
  • stem hairs flattened to the stem

Similar Species:

  • Round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata) and Hairy bush clover (L. hirta) have similar cream-colored or yellowish flowers. Only Sericea lespedeza has two broad violet streaks on the inside of the upper petals of the flowers. It also has stem hairs that are flattened to the stem, while the other species have stem hairs that are spreading.


  • Sericea lespedeza can crowd native plants as it grows into dense stands and it also creates a large seed bank in the soil. Rapid seed production and dispersal allow for extensive growth and reproduction and it is toxic or unpalatable to most herbivores.
  • This species is not known on Nantucket as of December 2006, but is known to be invasive in some states. More information is needed about its potential for invading the Northeastern U.S.

Growth Form: Herb

Origin: Eastern Asia

Level of Invasiveness for Nantucket: Do not list at this time

Level of Invasiveness for Massachusetts: Not evaluated

Massachusetts Cultivation Restrictions: no

Credits: The Electronic Field Guide to the Invasive Plants of Nantucket (c) 2005-2006 Maria Mitchell Association, EFG Project, UMass Boston