Lespedeza japonica

Common Name: bush clover 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Japan
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 4.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in infertile soils. Tolerates some drought. May self-seed. Blooms on new growth. Plants often die to the ground in cold winters. Usually grown as herbaceous perennials by cutting back to the ground in early spring each year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lespedeza japonica is a deciduous shrub or sub-shrub with an arching, fountain-like habit. When cut to the ground in early spring, it will rapidly grow up to 5' tall and 10' wide in a single growing season. Features trifoliate, bluish-green leaves and drooping racemes (to 6" long) of pure white, pea-like flowers which are grouped into large, pendulous flower panicles (up to 2' long). Blooms late summer to early fall. In full bloom, the flower-laden stems arch downward with a fountain-like grace, often to the point of nearly lying on the ground. This species is very similar to Lespedeza thunbergii, except the leaves herein are a bit broader and flower color is white.

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

Specific epithet means of Japan.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Annual growth produces spectacular arching flower stems and late summer bloom for the perennial border or shrub border. Pendulous flowering stems display well when grown on slopes. Effective when massed, but needs lots of room.