Sericea Lespedeza

sericealespedeza_smSericeales pedeza is a perennial that grows to 5 feet tall. The stems are erect with small hairs laying flat along the ridges on the stem. Leaves have 3 leaflets that are 1 to 1-½ inches long and less than ¼ to ½ inches wide with the larger leaflets on the lower portion of the stem. They are wedge-shaped with small flat hairs on the lower surface. there are 1-4flowers in the axils of the leaves with petals whitish to light yellow and may be tinged with purple.

Sericea lespedeza was introduced to the United States from China in 1900 for erosion control. It contains tannin which makes the plant essentially unpalatable to livestock with the exception of sheep and goats. Sericea lespedeza is spread by animals and the movement of infested hay. This plant is tolerant to drought. The seed may remain viable for more than 20 years.

Sericea lespedeza is found in Nebraska and Kansas. Residents of Colorado's eastern plains should be watching for this species.