Lespedeza bicolor
Common Name: shrub lespedeza 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Eastern Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 5.00 to 10.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: Rose purple
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best in infertile, dryish soils in full sun. Good drainage is essential. Tolerates drought. May self-seed in optimum growing conditions. Blooms on new growth, so prune as needed in late winter to early spring. Top growth may die to the ground in harsh winters, though roots are winter hardy to USDA Zone 4. Often grown in the manner of an herbaceous perennial in colder climates by cutting to the ground in late winter to early spring each year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lespedeza bicolor, commonly called bush clover, is a loose, open, deciduous shrub or sub-shrub which typically grows 5-10' tall and as wide. If cut to the ground in late winter, it will rapidly grow to 5' tall in a single growing season. Features trifoliate, dark green leaves (elliptic leaflets to 2" long) and erect racemes (to 5" long) of rose-purple, pea-like flowers which bloom both at the stem tips and in the upper leaf axils in late summer. Flowers are followed by small, flat, rounded to elliptic, one-seeded pods (to 1/3" long). Although native to China and Japan, this shrub was introduced into the U.S. in the mid 1800s and was at one point commonly planted on banks and slopes to help control erosion. It has naturalized in many parts of the southeastern U.S. where it is now considered to be an invasive plant in many areas, particularly in southeastern forests. Birds and animals help disburse the seeds.

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

Specific epithet means of two colors.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Late summer bloom for borders, open woodland gardens or naturalized areas. Group or mass. Also effective on slopes and banks to prevent erosion.