Sericea lespedeza image

Invasive Species of the Month: March 2012

Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata)

Also Known As

Chinese lespedeza, Chinese bush clover, Himalayan bush clover, hairy lespedeza

General Description

Sericea lespedeza is a semi-woody perennial forb that is native to Asia. It is an aggressive invader of open areas and can form dense stands that displace native vegetation. It reproduces primarily by seed and, due to the extensive seed banks it establishes in the soil, can be extremely difficult to eradicate.

Growth Habit

Sericea lespedeza grows 3–6 feet tall and may have 1 or more slender, woody stems with sharp, stiff, flattened bristles. It develops a woody taproot that branches laterally and grows 3–4 feet deep.


Leaves are alternate and divided into 3 leaflets, which are 0.5–1 inch long, oblong, and sharply pointed. Leaflets are densely covered with flattened hairs which give them a grayish–green or silvery appearance.


Small creamy–white to yellowish–white flowers have pink to purple throats and develop from the axils of the upper and middle leaves individually or in clusters of 2–4. Flowering occurs from July through October.

Seeds and Fruit

Flowers produce 1 small, shiny and slightly flattened seed that can be tan, olive, purple, or brown in color.


Sericea lespedeza can be found in open woodlands, grasslands, prairies, meadows, along roadsides and fences, and in open disturbed areas. It can tolerate moderate shade, but will not survive heavy shade.

Additional Resources

Species Identification and Characteristics
Colorado Department of Agriculture Fact Sheet (PDF) Images and Overview
Plant Conservation Alliance Fact Sheet
Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council Fact Sheet
Sericea Lespedeza: History, Characteristics, and Identification: Kansas State University Cooperative Extension (PDF)
Texas Invasives Fact Sheet
USDA Forest Service Fact Sheet (PDF)

Management and Control Resources

Ecology and Management of Sericea Lespedeza: Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (PDF)
USDA Forest Service Species Information

Past "Invasive Species of the Month" Profiles