Lespedeza capitata

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: bush clover 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: United States
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Creamy white with magenta spot
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Does well in infertile, dryish, sandy soils in full sun. Good drainage is essential. Tolerates drought. May self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lespedeza capitata is a perennial species of bush clover that typically grows to 2-4' (less frequently to 5') tall on stiff upright stems. It is native to Missouri where it is commonly found in upland woods, thickets and prairies, on glades and along streams, railroads and roadsides (Steyermark). Tiny creamy white, pea-like flowers with a magenta spot at the base of the standard bloom in dense, rounded heads (axillary clusters) in mid to late summer. Trifoliate, alternate, almost stalkless leaves have three narrow-oblong leaflets. Leaflets may be green with little hair to gray-green and hairy depending upon the particular variety or form. Steyermark lists five different botanical varieties of this species as native to Missouri. Sometimes commonly called round-headed bush clover in reference to the rounded, clover-like flower heads and the clover-like foliage.

Genus name honors Vincente Manuel de Cespedes, Spanish Governor of West Florida from 1784 to 1790.

Specific epithet means growing in a dense head.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Perhaps best naturalized in prairie, open woodland, native plant or wild areas.