Amorpha canescens

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: lead plant 
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: North America
Zone: 2 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 2.50 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Purple, blue
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil


Grow in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Does well in poor, sandy, somewhat dry soils. May spread by self-seeding. Plant may die back to the ground in harsh winters.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Amorpha canescens, commonly called called lead plant, is a Missouri native that typically occurs in open woodlands, glades and prairies. This pea/bean family member is a somewhat ungainly, deciduous shrub growing 1-3' tall and featuring slender, dense, 4-8" spike-like clusters of tiny, bluish-purple flowers with gold anthers which bloom in May-June. It also features alternate, pinnately compound leaves with grayish green leaflets and densely hairy twigs.

Genus name comes from the Greek word amorphos meaning shapeless or deformed in reference to the corolla of this pea family genus lacking wings and a keel.

Specific epithet means with off-white or ashy-grey hairs in reference to the leaves and twigs.

The genus Amorpha is often called false indigo because of its resemblance to plants of the genus Indigofera. Common name of lead plant refers to the once held belief that the plant was an indicator of the presence of lead in the ground.


No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spots, rust, powdery mildew and canker.


A somewhat ordinary looking, small shrub with an attractive bloom but otherwise with no particularly outstanding landscape features. Good plant for naturalizing in a native or wildflower garden, prairie or meadow.