Common Name: Sericea lespedeza, Chinese lespedeza, Chinese bushclover, Himalayan bushclover
Scientific Name: Lespedeza cuneata (Dum.-Cours.) G. Don
Sericea lespedeza is a member of the Pea or Fabaceae family. This invasive plant has spread throughout the eastern United States and is a significant threat to native prairies and rangelands. Although high in crude protein, lespedeza is not a preferred for forage due to it high concentration of tannins. L. cuneata is used as a medicinal herb to treat ailments such as skin ulcerations, dysentery, enteritis, and hernias.
L. capitata and L. hirta have cream-colored or yellowish flowers similar to L. cuneata. The base of the upper petal of the flower of sericea lespedeza has two broad violet streaks on the inside of the center portion. The flowers of L. capitata and L. hirta occur in dense clusters and the stem hairs are spreading rather than being flattened to the stem as in L. cuneata.
L. cuneata will grow on a variety of sites including pastures, rangelands, prairies, eroded slopes, and roadsides. Lespedeza will grow in a wide variety of soils and is very tolerant of drought. It is moderately shade tolerant and will persist along wooded edges and sparsely forested areas.
Mechanical Control: Hand pulling of mature plants is impractical due to lespedeza’s extensive perennial root system. Mowing plants in the flower bud stage for two or three consecutive years may reduce the vigor of lespedeza stands and control further spread. Plants should be cut before seeds mature and as low to the ground as possible. Impact to adjacent native plants should be minimized as much as possible.
Spot Treatments: Herbicidal controls are effective as long as the plants are actively growing. Glyphosate, triclopyr and metsulfuron have been shown to be effective in controlling Chinese lespedeza. The addition of a non-ionic surfactant at a concentration of 0.5% improves the effectiveness of foliar treatments. A 1%-2% solution triclopyr or glyphosate thoroughly mixed with water is effective during the vegetative stage prior to branching or during flowering. Metsulfuron methyl should be applied at a rate of 0.3g/gallon of water. Treatments should cover the leaves and stems of plants to the point of runoff. Read the herbicide label thoroughly prior to use.
Broadcast: Broadcast treatments are appropriate for large infestations such as fields or prairies. Since native plants will be intermingled with lespedeza, triclopyr and metsulfuron are the preferred herbicides due to their selective characteristics. Apply triclopyr at a rate of 1.0-1.5 pints per acre.
Metsulfuron should be applied at a rate of 0.5 oz per acre. Use a non-ionic surfactant according to manufacturer’s instructions to improve effectiveness.
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