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Datasheet

Lespedeza cuneata
(sericea lespedeza)

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Datasheet

Lespedeza cuneata (sericea lespedeza)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 06 November 2020
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Lespedeza cuneata
  • Preferred Common Name
  • sericea lespedeza
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Lespedeza cuneata is a flowering plant with a broad native range, including parts of central Asia, eastern and south eastern Asia and Australasia. It was introduced into the USA in the late 1800s and was widely planted for erosion control...

  • Principal Source
  • Draft datasheet under review

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Lespedeza cuneata; Habit. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
TitleHabit
CaptionLespedeza cuneata; Habit. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
Copyright©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Habit. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
HabitLespedeza cuneata; Habit. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
TitleFlowers
CaptionLespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
Copyright©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
FlowersLespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
TitleFlowers
CaptionLespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
Copyright©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
FlowersLespedeza cuneata; Flowers. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Leaves. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
TitleLeaves
CaptionLespedeza cuneata; Leaves. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
Copyright©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Leaves. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.
LeavesLespedeza cuneata; Leaves. Bupyeong, Korea October 2010.©Dalgial/via Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 3.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.
TitleFoliage and seeds
CaptionLespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.
Copyright©Katja Schulz/via Flickr - CC BY 2.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.
Foliage and seedsLespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.©Katja Schulz/via Flickr - CC BY 2.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.
TitleFoliage and seeds
CaptionLespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.
Copyright©Katja Schulz/via Flickr - CC BY 2.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.
Foliage and seedsLespedeza cuneata; Foliage and seeds. Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC, USA. November 2017.©Katja Schulz/via Flickr - CC BY 2.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Habit. Prince George's, Maryland, United States. September 2017.
TitleHabit
CaptionLespedeza cuneata; Habit. Prince George's, Maryland, United States. September 2017.
Copyright©Katja Schulz/via Flickr - CC BY 2.0
Lespedeza cuneata; Habit. Prince George's, Maryland, United States. September 2017.
HabitLespedeza cuneata; Habit. Prince George's, Maryland, United States. September 2017.©Katja Schulz/via Flickr - CC BY 2.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Lespedeza cuneata (Dum.Cours.) G. Don

Preferred Common Name

  • sericea lespedeza

Other Scientific Names

  • Anthyllis cuneata Dum. Cours.
  • Aspalathus cuneata (Dum. Cours.) D. Don
  • Hedysarum sericeum Thunb. non Mill
  • Lespedeza argyraea Siebold & Zucc.
  • Lespedeza juncea (L.f.) Pers. var. sericea Forbes & Hemsl.
  • Lespedeza juncea subsp. sericea (Thunb.) Steen.
  • Lespedeza juncea var. sericea (Thunb.) Lace & Hauech
  • Lespedeza sericea Miq.
  • Lespedeza sericea var. latifolia Maxim.

International Common Names

  • English: bush clover; Chinese bush clover; Chinese lespedeza; Japanese bush clover; perennial lespedeza; Siberian lespedeza; silky bush clover
  • Spanish: lespedeza perenne
  • French: lespedeza de Chine; lespedeza soyeux

Local Common Names

  • China: jie ye tie sao zhou
  • Georgia (Republic of): iaponuri samkura
  • Germany: Seidenhaarbuschklee
  • Japan: medohagi
  • Korea, Republic of: bisuri
  • Russian Federation: lespedeza serebristaya
  • USA: sericiea lespedeza

EPPO code

  • LESCU

Summary of Invasiveness

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Lespedeza cuneata is a flowering plant with a broad native range, including parts of central Asia, eastern and south eastern Asia and Australasia. It was introduced into the USA in the late 1800s and was widely planted for erosion control, mine reclamation and wildlife habitat. It proved to be an extremely aggressive invader of open areas, outcompeting native vegetation. Once established, it is very difficult to remove due to the seed bank which may remain viable for decades. L. cuneata is an invasive weed in rangelands and grasslands of the Midwest and eastern USA, listed as a noxious weed in Kansas and Colorado and on the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council’s List as a Category 1 species. However, L. cuneata is still valued for erosion control along roadsides and for forage, and several nurseries and seed companies still offer L. cuneata for these purposes. It is also reported in several other countries, but further information is limited. It is not present in Europe but following a pest risk analysis, it was added to the EPPO A1 List in 2019.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Subfamily: Faboideae
  •                                 Genus: Lespedeza
  •                                     Species: Lespedeza cuneata

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The genus Lespedeza (Leguminosae, tribe Desmodieae) includes 44 species. A recent taxonomic classification described by Ohashi and Nemoto (2014) proposed a new infrageneric system, dividing the genus into two subgenera: subgenus Lespedeza confined to North America and subgenus Macrolespedeza to Asia, mainly East Asia. Morphologically, these subgenera differ only in seedling morphology, but the distinction is strongly supported by molecular analyses. Each subgenus is further subdivided into two sections, subgenus Lespedeza into Lespedeza and Lespedezariae and subgenus Macrolespedeza into Macrolespedeza and Junceae. See Ohashi and Nemoto (2014) for a revised description of the genus, a key to infrageneric taxa, synonyms and placement in the revised classification.

In this classification, L. cuneata is in subgenus Macrolespedeza, section Junceae, and L. cuneata is used here as the accepted name. Some databases such as The Plant List (2013), ILDIS (2017) and Australia’s Virtual Herbarium (Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2019) use L. juncea var. sericea and there are (at least) two different naming authorities used for this epithet, (Thunb.) Lace & Hauech and also F.B. Forbes & Hemsl., with L. cuneata in synonymy. Nonetheless, as many other respected sources prefer L. cuneata, e.g. USDA-ARS (2019), Flora of China Editorial Committee (2019) and Missouri Botanical Garden (2019), this is the preferred name used in this datasheet. Species delimitation appears undisputed and thus use of one binomial or another both refer to the same material.

One variety, L. cuneata var. serpens (Nakai) Ohwi is recorded (USDA-ARS, 2019) and one forma, f. flava (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2019), indicating a level of intraspecific variation that would be expected in a species with such a wide native range, from south eastern Australia to northern China and from Georgia to the Philippines. Commercially available cultivars are also available in the USA, such as those adapted to the northeast, including ‘Interstate’, ‘Serala’, ‘Caricea’ and ‘Appalow’, a prostrate form developed at the Quicksand Plant Materials Center in Kentucky (PIER, 2019).

Description

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Lespedeza cuneata is an erect or sub-erect perennial herbaceous to semi-woody forb reaching 0.5-1.0(-1.8 m) in height. Stems one to many, slender, often grey-green with lines of hairs. Leaves are thin, alternate, abundant and three-parted. Leaflets are 1.3-2.5 cm long, hairy and wedge-shaped at the base. Flowers are of two types: chasmogamous (petaliferous) or cleistogamous (apetalous). Petals of the chasmogamous flowers are typically cream-white to yellow white in colour and the upper-most (banner) petal can have pink- or purple-coloured veins. The calyx is 3 to 4 mm long. Chasmogamous flowers grow in clusters of 1-4 flowers per leaf axis. Cleistogamous flowers are always self-fertilized (versus cross-fertilized in chasmogamous flowers), typically do not open and do not have showy petals. Cleistogamous flowers have a calyx 1.5-2.0 mm long and are generally scattered amongst the chasmogamous flowers. Fruits of L. cuneata are 3-5 mm long and are glabrous or with appressed hairs. Seeds are shiny, slightly flattened, ellipsoid to oval and are either tan, olive, purple or a mottled brown colour. Seeds from the two flower types can easily be distinguished from each other by their shape and size.

Plant Type

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Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed / spore propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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Lespedeza cuneata is native to parts of temperate and tropical Asia and Australasia (Harden, 2001), from Georgia and Afghanistan in the west through South Asia, to China, Japan and the Philippines and south throughout Southeast Asia to Papua New Guinea and Australia. It is reported to be a common native in Korea, but PIER (2019) report as introduced in the Bonin islands in Japan and Fiji.

The list of native range countries includes additional distribution records to those reported in the recent definitive publication on the species (EPPO, 2019), adding China, Georgia, Myanmar, North Korea and Papua New Guinea, sub-national records for India and Indonesia and an additional introduced record for Fiji (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2019; ILDIS, 2017; PIER, 2019).

Lespedeza cuneata has been introduced into South Africa, Canada, USA, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Fiji and Hawaii, but there is limited further information on its occurrence outside of the USA.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 12 May 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

South AfricaPresent

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNative
BhutanPresentNative
ChinaPresentNative
-FujianPresentNative
-GansuPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-GuangdongPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-GuizhouPresentNative
-HainanPresentNative
-HenanPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-HubeiPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-HunanPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-JiangsuPresentNative
-ShaanxiPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-ShandongPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-SichuanPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-XinjiangPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-YunnanPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-ZhejiangPresentNative
GeorgiaPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
Hong KongPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
IndiaPresentNative
-Arunachal PradeshPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-AssamPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-BiharPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-Himachal PradeshPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-ManipurPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-MeghalayaPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-MizoramPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-NagalandPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-PunjabPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-RajasthanPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-SikkimPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-Tamil NaduPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-TripuraPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-Uttar PradeshPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-West BengalPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
IndonesiaPresentNative
-JavaPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-Lesser Sunda IslandsPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-SumatraPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
JapanPresentNative
-Bonin IslandsPresentIntroduced
LaosPresentNative
MalaysiaPresentNative
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
MyanmarPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
NepalPresentNative
North KoreaPresentNative
PakistanPresentNative
PhilippinesPresentNative
South KoreaPresentNative
TaiwanPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
ThailandPresentNative
VietnamPresentNative

North America

CanadaPresentIntroduced
-OntarioPresentIntroduced
Dominican RepublicPresent
MexicoPresentIntroduced
United StatesPresentIntroduced
-AlabamaPresentIntroduced
-ArkansasPresentIntroduced
-FloridaPresentIntroduced
-GeorgiaPresentIntroduced
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasiveApparently sparingly naturalized
-IllinoisPresentIntroduced
-IndianaPresentIntroduced
-KansasPresentIntroduced
-KentuckyPresentIntroduced
-LouisianaPresentIntroduced
-MichiganPresentIntroduced
-MississippiPresentIntroduced
-MissouriPresentIntroduced
-NebraskaPresentIntroduced
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced
-North CarolinaPresent
-OhioPresentIntroduced
-OklahomaPresentIntroduced
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroduced
-South CarolinaPresent
-TennesseePresentIntroduced
-TexasPresentIntroduced
-VirginiaPresentIntroduced
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced

Oceania

AustraliaPresentNative
-New South WalesPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-Northern TerritoryPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-QueenslandPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-VictoriaPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
-Western AustraliaPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
FijiPresentIntroducedViti Levu Island
Papua New GuineaPresentNativeAs L. juncea subsp. sericea
Timor-LestePresent

South America

BrazilPresent

History of Introduction and Spread

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The first record of the introduction of L. cuneata in North America was in 1896 at the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station, USA (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). In the 1920s and 1930s, L. cuneata was grown and planted for erosion control and mine reclamation but was not widely utilized as a pasture species in the USA until the 1940s. L. cuneata has since spread outside of cultivation north to New Jersey and Michigan, south to Florida and Texas and north west to Nebraska and Oklahoma (USDA-NRCS, 2019). It has successfully invaded the deep, well-drained loess soils of Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, and the deep red soils of the Piedmont Plateau in the Appalachian Highlands (PIER, 2019). L. cuneata is also reported in Hawaii (USDA-NRCS, 2019) where it is “apparently sparingly naturalized” (PIER, 2019).

Risk of Introduction

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An Australian/New Zealand Weed Risk Assessment adapted for Hawaii was undertaken in 2004 as reported by PIER and gave a high risk score of 17 (Daehler, 2004).

In the USA, the plant is a declared noxious weed in Kansas (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001), Nebraska (Nebraska Department of Agriculture, 2019), Colorado (USDA-NRCS, 2019) and New York State (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 2014).

In 2016, L. cuneata, was identified as a priority for risk assessment within the requirements of Regulation 1143/2014 of the European Parliament (Branquart et al., 2016; Tanner et al., 2017) and a subsequent pest risk analysis concluded that L. cuneata had a moderate phytosanitary risk to the endangered area (EPPO, 2018) and was added to the EPPO A1 List (No. 426) in 2019.

Habitat

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In its native range in the Philippines, L. cuneata occurs on grassy slopes from altitudes of 1200-2200 m and in Taiwan it is common in open locations (roadsides, waste land, hill sides) up to altitudes of 3100 m (Mosjidis, 2003).

Where it has been introduced in the USA, L. cuneata can grow in a variety of habitats, including severely eroded sterile soils, and it will invade open woodlands, fields, prairies, the borders of ponds and swamps, meadows and open disturbed ground (Mosjidis, 2003). Weber (2017) and Gucker (2010) report that typical invaded habitats include grassland, woodland, forests, wetland edges, pastures and disturbed sites, as well as along roadsides, drainage areas, fence rows and in other disturbed areas in the USA, flourishing where other plants have difficulty growing, such as on eroded, infertile soils. It is also often found as a weed in cultivated areas, fallow and abandoned fields, meadows and marshes (Holm et al., 1979). It is also found in the dense shade of pine forests in coastal Louisiana (Pitman, 2006).

Ecological niche modelling has also been used for predicting the geographic course of L. cuneata invasions in North America and the geographic invasive potential was well predicted holding promise for the development of control and eradication strategies and for risk assessment (Peterson et al., 2003).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Lespedeza cuneata has a chromosome count of 2n=20 (Missouri Botanical Garden, 2019). It was found to be able to produce viable hybrids with L. latissima, L. inschanica and L. hedysaroides, but no viable hybrids were obtained from crosses between perennial American and Asian species, between perennial and annual Lespedeza species, or between species with different chromosome numbers (Daehler, 2004).

Reproductive Biology

The primary mode of reproduction in L. cuneata is by seed, but spread by vegetative reproduction has also been reported (Daehler, 2004).

Flowers are of two types, with self-fertilized chasmogamous (petaliferous) flowers and cross-fertilized cleistogamous (apetalous) flowers. The primary pollinator is the honey bee (Daehler, 2004). L. cuneata is a prolific seed producer, with individual stems able to produce in excess of 1000 seeds, with 130-390 kg of seed produced per acre (325-975 kg/ha) and 770,000 seeds/kg (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). Seed yields are highest if no biomass is removed from the plant such as by grazing, cutting, or burning during the year of seed harvest (Adamson and Donnelly, 1973). Seeds can be produced in the first year of growth, and were found to be produced from as early as 15 weeks old in Oklahoma (Farris, 2006). Seed are estimated to be able to survive for more than 20 years in the soil, although Ohlenbusch et al. (2001) noted that no direct data was available to confirm this expectation. Inferences have been made about seed banks from field studies; L. cuneata seed was found in 80–90% of soil samples from restored forest on coal mine spoil, although plants were only present in two of four plots (Carter and Ungar, 2002) and Honu et al. (2009) found 160 seeds/m2 from a forest plot in Illinois where the plant was not found.

In a study that compared L. cuneata with five native species, Woods et al. (2009) found that it produced a mean of five times as many seeds and a significantly greater number of vegetative buds than any native studied and over 20 times as many flowers. L. cuneata also relied less on selfing than native species and it was concluded that the diverse reproductive biology and wide regeneration niche of L. cuneata in relation to its native facilitates its successful spread under a wide range of conditions.

Physiology and Phenology

Lespedeza cuneata can reach a height of two meters in loamy soils and has an extensive taproot that can extend up to 120 cm or more with numerous lateral branches and finer fibrous roots (Guernsey, 1977; Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). Juvenile plants have only one stem that can have many top branches. In winter, food reserves are stored in the underground taproot and old stems die back. New stems arise from root crown buds in early spring and increasing numbers of stems are produced each year. A single plant is able to form a large stand that can live over 20 years. Daylengths of 13 h or less are required for L. cuneata to flower (Mosjidis, 2003). In the USA, L. cuneata has been observed flowering from July to October (Daehler, 2004).

Longevity

Lespedeza cuneata is an aggressive, warm-season, long-lived perennial legume (Stevens, 2019)

Activity Patterns

The frequency of native insect herbivores was found to mediate the interactive effects of propagule supply and resources on the invasion of L. cuneata in the USA (Sanders et al., 2007).

Also, by comparing an ancestral L. cuneata genotype introduced to North America in 1930 with modern-day invasive (North American) and native (Japanese) genotypes, Beaton et al. (2011) found that the invasive genotype was a better competitor than either the native or the ancestral genotype, exhibiting greater induced resistance but lower constitutive resistance, suggesting that selection has played a pivotal role in shaping the species into a more aggressive, but less constitutively defended competitor.

Environmental Requirements

Lespedeza cuneata is adapted to tropical, subtropical and warm temperate areas with mean annual temperatures ranging from 10-29°C (Mosjidis, 2003). 

Pramanik and Thothathri (1983) stated that L. cuneata (as L. juncea var. sericea) is the only representative of the group occurring in both temperate and tropical climates. In the USA, it grows from Florida and Texas, north to Nebraska and east to the Atlantic coast through Michigan and New York (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). L. cuneata can grow where annual precipitation exceeds 760 mm, but is also considered to be drought tolerant (Hoveland and Donnelly, 1985; Stevens, 2019).

Lespedeza cuneata is well adapted to clay or loam soils (Hoveland and Donnelly, 1985), but can also tolerate shallow acid soils of low fertility with a pH < 5 and high aluminium content (Cope, 1966; Plass and Vogel, 1973; Hoveland and Donnelly, 1985; Ohlenbusch et al., 2001; Mosjidis, 2003). However, L. cuneata reportedly grows best on soil with a pH of 6.0-6.5 on deep, well-drained clay or loamy soils (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). Hoveland and Donnelly (1985) also report that the cultivar ‘Serala 76’ is better adapted to light-textured soils than the originally imported accessions.

Ohlenbusch et al. (2001) also note that the species is able to establish in dense shade, but establishes better where the competing vegetation is short and light is able to reach the ground (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). In the USA, it was found to perform better in soil in which it had been previously grown, although the precise mechanism for this self-facilitation is not known (Coykendall and Houseman, 2014). Crawford and Knight (2017) provided evidence that effects on the soil biota were responsible, but also found that this self-facilitation was not found in competition with communities of native prairie species.

Lespedeza cuneata is a nitrogen-fixing legume, enabling its growth in nutrient-poor conditions (Brandon et al., 2004; Houseman et al., 2014). Its taproot, that can grow up to 120 cm (Guernsey, 1977; Ohlenbusch et al., 2001), contributes to its drought resistance.

Allred et al. (2010) compared morphological and physiological traits of L. cuneata with native prairie grasses in the USA and found that total and specific leaf area exceeded that of native species and may allow L. cuneata to successfully establish and dominate in tallgrass prairie, aiding in both resource acquisition and competitive exclusion. Furthermore, gas exchange traits (e.g. net photosynthesis, stomatal conductance and water use efficiency) did not exceed other species but remained constant throughout the daily sampling periods, revealing characteristics of stress tolerance. The combination of these characteristics and strategies may assist in its successful invasions in tallgrass prairie.

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Absolute minimum temperature (ºC) -10
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 10 29
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 20 35
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 0 10

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall6001600mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Special soil tolerances

  • infertile
  • shallow

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Acyrthosiphon pisum Herbivore not specific
Helicoverpa zea Herbivore not specific
Heterodera glycines Parasite not specific
Hypena scabra Herbivore not specific
Lygus lineolaris Herbivore not specific
Pratylenchus penetrans Parasite not specific
Spissistilus festinus Herbivore not specific

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The following natural enemies have been reported: Acyrthosiphon pisum (pea aphid), Helicoverpa zea (American cotton bollworm), Heterodera glycines (soybean cyst nematode), Hypena scabra (green cloverworm), Lygus lineolaris (tarnished plant bug), Pratylenchus penetrans (nematode, northern root lesion) and Spissistilus festinus (three-cornered alfalfa hopper) (from data mining).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

The primary mode of reproduction in L. cuneata is by seed, but spread by vegetative reproduction has also been reported (Daehler, 2004). There are no specialized structures for seed dispersal in the genus (Daehler, 2004) . Quick et al. (2017) noted that L. cuneata seed size and shape of suggest that wind and attachment to animals are not important for dispersal. Mature seeds of species in the genus are reported to remain viable for up to 20 years, with one study finding a germination rate of 60% after cold storage for 55 years (Daehler, 2004).

Vector Transmission

Dispersal is aided by birds and rodents consuming the fruits and passing the seeds, with a study finding that several species of Lespedeza comprise 1.5% to 86.8% of the annual diet of bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) in the southeastern USA (Daehler, 2004).

Intentional Introduction

Lespedeza cuneata was intentionally introduced to the USA and was planted for erosion control and mine reclamation, later being more widely grown for fodder and soil conservation (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). L. cuneata is listed in horticultural floras (e.g. Cullen et al., 1995) for the EPPO region and seed is available from horticultural suppliers. It is likely that it could be further introduced for these or other perceived uses (e.g. bee forage). Daehler (2004) also notes that widespread use of the species by federal and state agencies for bank stabilization, soil improvement, wildlife cover and forage production, facilitated its spread throughout the eastern USA.

Accidental Introduction

Although there is no published evidence of L. cuneata seed being a contaminant of hay, there is evidence that hay is imported into the EU from the USA (EPPO, 2018) and thus this is considered a potential pathway (EPPO, 2019).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Digestion and excretionConsumed by birds and rodents Yes Daehler (2004)
DisturbanceIntroduced for rapid greening of disturbed sites Yes Carter and Ungar (2002)
Escape from confinement or garden escapeGrown for fodder Yes Hoveland and Donnelly (1985)
Habitat restoration and improvementUsed for mine reclamation and soil conservation Yes Yes Ohlenbusch et al. (2001)
Landscape improvementUsed for erosion control Yes Yes Ohlenbusch et al. (2001)
Nursery tradeAvailable from horticultural suppliers Yes Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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Lespedeza cuneata can replace more palatable forage species in some systems, and the high tannin levels in old plants can have a negative impact on cattle and horses. L. cuneata has the potential to disrupt pollination networks.

Environmental Impact

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In the USA, L. cuneata thrives under a variety of conditions, forming dense stands that crowd out native species in natural areas, reduce light availability and potentially increase competition for soil water (Eddy and Moore, 1998; Allred et al., 2010). Eddy and Moore (1998) showed that invasions of L. cuneata reduced native species richness in oak savannahs in Kansas, with the number of native grass species decreasing from 12 to 4 and native forb species declining from 27 to 8, and significant impacts on the numbers of invertebrate species found and on the total biomass of native plant species. Brandon et al. (2004) found that L. cuneata suppressed native plants in old fields, possibly from shading, and that it could dominate in grassland communities. L. cuneata also contains allelopathic chemicals that reduce the performance of native grass species by up to 60% (Dudley and Fick, 2003). L. cuneata has also been shown to attract more pollinators than co-occurring native species (Woods et al., 2012).

Peters et al. (2015) also observed that the bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus) had low summer survival in areas dominated by L. cuneata, though Howard (2003) found both positive and negative effects on small mammal diversity and abundances in response to different levels of L. cuneata.

Lespedeza cuneata is a nitrogen-fixing legume, enabling its growth in nutrient-poor conditions (Brandon et al., 2004; Houseman et al., 2014) and thus has the potential to increase soil nitrogen levels in invaded areas and impact nutrient cycling and soil microbial communities. Yannarell et al. (2011) also observed impacts on soil bacteria and fungi.

Risk and Impact Factors

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Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Tolerant of shade
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
  • Reproduces asexually
  • Has high genetic variability
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of nutrient regime
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts forestry
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Allelopathic
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Hybridization
  • Rapid growth
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Economic Value

Lespedeza cuneata is grown for fodder and improved varieties have been developed for hay and pasture, with production of 6-11 t/ha reported of a high-quality forage with high levels of crude protein (Hoveland and Donnelly, 1985). Livestock readily consume hay containing L. cuneata, though the high tannin levels of L. cuneata reduce protein uptake this can be reduced with drying (Ohlenbusch et al., 2001). L. cuneata fodder also has positive impacts on animal health and the commercial quality of milk (Min et al., 2005) and shows anthelmintic activity against gastrointestinal nematodes in sheep and goats (Terrill et al., 2009).

Environmental Services

Lespedeza cuneata was originally introduced into the USA for soil conservation and it was widely used for soil stabilization on roadsides and a range for other landscape and land improvement uses, such as the rapid greening of disturbed sites and the revegetation of surface coal mine sites in the eastern USA (Carter and Ungar, 2002).

Lespedeza cuneata is noted as valuable for wildlife (Gucker, 2010), although some information is anecdotal. Schneider et al. (2006) found the it to be an important year-round food source for reintroduced elk (Cervus elaphus) on restored mine spoil in Kentucky. It has also been recommended as a food source for the northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus), but birds fed L. cuneata experienced critical weight loss and it would be unlikely to sustain them during severe winter conditions (Newlon et al., 1964). Unger et al. (2015) used radio-tracking to determine habitat use by northern bobwhite on a reclaimed coal mining site and found that L. cuneata stands were frequently used, but still recommended that L. cuneata control could be beneficial due the effect of the species on native plants of higher nutritional value (Vogel, 1981; Ohlenbusch et al., 2001).

Lespedeza cuneata is also considered as a source of bee forage (Stubbendieck and Conrad, 1989).

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Fodder/animal feed
  • Forage

Environmental

  • Erosion control or dune stabilization
  • Land reclamation
  • Landscape improvement
  • Revegetation
  • Soil conservation
  • Soil improvement

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Lespedeza cuneata can be distinguished by leaf shape, flower colour and by its general growth form. When mature, L. cuneata is the only species within the genus that has cuneate or wedge-shaped leaf bases and flowers that are creamy-white with purple throats and numerous tall, coarse stems that grow in bunches. Juveniles of L. cuneata can be distinguished from the native and closely related L. virginica by the large coarse stems, versus few weak stems in L. virginica (Stevens, 2019).

Lespedeza cuneata has trifoliate leaves that are denser along the stem than those of L. junceasensu strictu (Pramanik and Thothathri, 1983). A key feature for distinguishing L. cuneata from L. juncea s.s. is the length to width ratio of the leaflets (Pramanik and Thothathri, 1983; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2019), with L. cuneata having narrower leaflets with length:width ratios between 4:1 and 6:1, while the length:width ratios of L. juncea s.s. leaves are between 3:1 and 4:1.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control and Sanitary Measures

Rangelands can be managed by burning, grazing and fertilization. Prescribed burning of native grass in the late spring followed by intensive grazing with mature cattle will increase utilization of L. cuneata, and grazing infested sites with sheep and goats will provide effective control. Pastures should be properly fertilized and grazed during April and May (PIER, 2019). Furthermore, Lemmon et al. (2017) showed that intensive late-season grazing with sheep in native tallgrass prairie provided comprehensive control of L. cuneata in Kansas.

Fire has been used on non-rangeland infestations with some success, though results vary. Wong et al. (2012) found that controlled burns are likely to encourage spread of L. cuneata and are unlikely to effectively control the species. However, other found success with late spring burns (mid-May to the end of June) may be effective if a fire will carry through the area at that time. However, spring burning was not always effective as new shoots sprout almost immediately after fire and controlled burns in the dormant season can even promote L. cuneata as fire scarifies seeds, promoting germination and seedling establishment on open ground. Seed dormancy is broken by prescribed burning and resulting seedlings may be less viable. The persistent, long-lived seed bank may add new plants to the site for years to come, so burning can been advantageous in promoting seed germination, if followed with mechanical or chemical treatments (Stevens, 2019). Late summer burns can also decrease adult plant vigour, removing seeds from that year and decrease seedling survival (PIER, 2019). Patch burning was also found to reduce the rate of invasion by maintaining young, palatable plants in the burnt patch and could play a vital role in an integrated weed management strategy on rangelands (Cummings et al., 2007).

Mechanical Control

The deep root system makes removal of the plant by digging or pulling extremely difficult, and mowing or ploughing are generally not feasible over extensive areas as L. cuneata typically grows in rough, rocky land. Such cutting may also greatly disturb native plant populations (Stevens, 2019). Mowing plants in the flower bud stage for 2-3 years can reduce plant vigour and control further spread and good control can be achieved by mowing followed by herbicide treatment in early to mid-summer (PIER, 2019).

Chemical Control

Most current management procedures require the use of herbicides to control the growth and expansion of L. cuneata, using metsulfuron methyl, triclopyr, clopyralid and glyphosate, applied in early to mid-summer during the flower bud stage and triclopyr or clopyralid during the vegetative stage prior to branching or during flowering (PIER, 2019). In wet sites, glyphosate is effective from early summer until seed set (PIER, 2019). L. cuneata is not susceptible to 2,4-D, picloram and dicamba.

Koger et al. (2002) also found that fluroxypyr, metsulfuron and triclopyr were all effective in controlling L. cuneata in Oklahoma, but regardless of rate, triclopyr and fluroxypyr provided the most consistent long-term control. Farris and Murray (2009) found triclopyr, metsulfuron-methyl, glyphosate and 2,4-D amine plus picloram, gave greater than 80% control, but that triclopyr was the most effective with 100% control.

Repeated treatments are also required, with Gibson et al. (2019) finding that five treatments including triclopyr and fluroxypyr all reduced the abundance of L. cuneata, but that dominance returned after 3 years.

Biological Control

Schutzenhofer and Knight (2007) simulated herbivory on L. cuneata and created stage-structured projection models to determine if augmented herbivory by a leaf-chewing biological control agent would regulate population growth rate. They found that augmented herbivory influenced stage transitions in the smallest stage class causing higher mortality and reduced growth, but with no other effects on stage transitions or fecundities, despite manipulation of herbivory at exceptionally high levels (up to 80% leaf loss). They concluded that biological control by a leaf chewing herbivore would not likely be successful even if an exceptionally large amount of each plant were consumed.

Integrated Pest Management

Lespedeza cuneata is best controlled by an integrated management approach that combines mechanical, chemical and cultural methods. Mapping was also effective using hyperspectral imagery (Wang et al., 2008). To maximize success of control treatments, Emry et al. (2011) recommended that managers should explicitly consider detectability, especially where small patches are scattered throughout a site and that to quantify the probability of detection, managers should conduct multiple surveys to help determine the effort needed for effective control.

In addition, an experiment in Kansas (Foster et al., 2015) showed that ecological restoration increased plant diversity, increased above ground productivity, reduced the availability of light, soil moisture and bare soil microsites and strongly suppressed the invasion of all species including L. cuneata, whereas in the absence of restoration, L. cuneata rapidly dominated plots where it had been sown, particularly at the highest propagule pressure.

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Wong, B. M., Houseman, G. R., Hinman, S. E., Foster, B. L., 2012. Targeting vulnerable life-stages of sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) with prescribed burns. Invasive Plant Science and Management, 5(4), 487-493. doi: 10.1614/IPSM-D-12-00002.1

Woods, T. M., Hartnett, D. C., Ferguson, C. J., 2009. High propagule production and reproductive fitness homeostasis contribute to the invasiveness of Lespedeza cuneata (Fabaceae). Biological Invasions, 11(8), 1913-1927. doi: 10.1007/s10530-008-9369-0

Woods, T. M., Jonas, J. L., Ferguson, C. J., 2012. The invasive Lespedeza cuneata attracts more insect pollinators than native congeners in tallgrass prairie with variable impacts. Biological Invasions, 14(5), 1045-1059. doi: 10.1007/s10530-011-0138-0

Yannarell, A. C., Busby, R. R., Denight, M. L., Gebhart, D. L., Taylor, S. J., 2011. Soil bacteria and fungi respond on different spatial scales to invasion by the legume Lespedeza cuneata. Frontiers in Microbiology, 2(June), Article 127. http://www.frontiersin.org/Terrestrial_Microbiology/10.3389/fmicb.2011.00127/full

Distribution References

EPPO, 2022. EPPO Global database. In: EPPO Global database, Paris, France: EPPO. 1 pp. https://gd.eppo.int/

Estrada E, Yen C, 2001. Lespedeza cuneata (Fabaceae), a first record of its occurrence in Mexico. SIDA, Contributions to Botany. 741-743.

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2019. Flora of China. In: Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2020. Flora of China. In: Flora of China, St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

ILDIS, 2017. International Legume Database and Information Service: World Database of Legumes (version 10)., Reading, UK: School of Plant Sciences, University of Reading. http://www.ildis.org/

PIER, 2019. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

USDA-ARS, 2020. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database, Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

USDA-NRCS, 2020. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database, Greensboro, North Carolina, USA: National Plant Data Team. https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov

Principal Source

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Draft datasheet under review

Contributors

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05/01/20 Original text by:

Nick Pasiecznik, Consultant, France

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