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Chinese lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)

Chinese lespedeza Common Names: Sericea lespedeza

Description: Introduced to North America as forage and for hay production on poor soils, as well as erosion control. Extremely aggressive invader because of its large seed bank which stays viable for decades.

Habit: Warm season, perennial, herbaceous, erect growth, ranging from 3-6 ft (0.9-1.8 m) in height.

Leaves: Alternate, thin, divided into 3 smaller leaflets, 1/2-1 in long, narrowly oblong and pointed, awl-shaped spines, leaflets covered with densely flattened hairs, grayish-green or silver appearance.

Stems: Erect; woody and fibrous when mature; covered with sharp, stuff flattened bristles; can reach a height of 3-6 ft (0.9-1.8 m).

Flowers: Small, about 1/4 in; creamy white to pale yellow in color with pink to purple colored veins; single or in clusters of 2-4, from the axils of the upper and median leaves; blooms late July through October.

Fruit and seeds: Single seed per flower, small, shiny and slightly flattened, ellipsoid to oval in shape, tan, olive, purple or brown in color.

Habitat: Native to Asia. Found in severely eroded sterile soils, woodlands, grasslands, savannas, roadsides, fence rows, fields, prairies, drainage areas, wetland borders of ponds and swamps, meadows and open disturbed ground.

Reproduction: By seed, which can remain viable for 20 years or more.

Similar species: Roundhead lespedeza (Lespedeza capitata) has much less branches and leaflets are longer and broader in size.

Monitoring and rapid response: Mow plants in the flower bud stage for 2-3 consecutive years, cut plants low to the ground; burning is not recommended as it can result in even more plants; can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as triclopyr, glyphosate, clopyralid, and metsulfuron methyl, in early to mid-summer. Follow label and state requirements.

Credits: The information provided in this factsheet was gathered from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

Individual species images that appear with a number in a black box are courtesy of the network ( photo author credits may not be included due to the small display size of the images and subsequent difficulty of reading the provided text. All other images appear courtesy of Google (

Common Name:

Chinese lespedeza

Scientific Name:

Lespedeza cuneata







USDA Symbol: