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[Lespedeza bicknellii House, more..., Lespedeza capitata var. longifolia Michx., Lespedeza capitata var. sericea Michx., Lespedeza capitata var. stenophylla Michx., Lespedeza capitata var. velutina Michx., Lespedeza capitata var. vulgaris Michx., Lespedeza longifolia DC., Lespedeza velutina E.P.Bicknell]
Similar to Lespedeza virginica which is also typically unbranched but which has linear leaflets and pink to lavender flowers, while L. capitata has leaflets that are less than half as wide as long and yellow flowers. Members of the genus Lespideza are sometimes confused with those of Desmodium, but can be distinguished by their seed pods which are short, oval, usually one-seeded, and are intact at maturity while the pods of Desmodium are elongated, and break into one-seeded segments at maturity.I photographed this plant while doing my careful walkabout of the Iron Horse SNA several days ago (13 August 2014). I used the MN wildflowers guide in determining what this species is and I would never have guessed that is was a "clover" much less in the Fabaceae Family. Thanks for a great guide that I use routinely. However, I am beginning to get concerned looks from my wife because I leave for hours some days on my walkabouts, returning later and later in the “gloaming hours” of the day. The biodiversity of this small parcel of mesic and wet prairie is mind blowing and I will be returning to study that which we have lost to time and aggressive agricultural practices in Minnesota.
A warm-season, deep rooted, perennial legume that grows on prairies and in open woods throughout the United States. In coastal prairie it is found in dry, sandy to loamy, soils with a pH range of 6.5-8. It is one of several excellent native perennial legumes that is very high in protein and is relished by all classes of livestock. It is a decreaser under heavy grazing but its numbers also eventually decrease in undisturbed soil (Philips Petroleum Company 1956). The leaves of this Lespedeza were used to make tea by the Comanche (Carlson and Jones 1939). The Omaha and Ponca people called it "te-hunton-hi-nuga" which means "female buffalo bellow plant." It was called this because its bloom coincides with buffalo rut (Gilmore 1977, Kindscher 1987). The sprouts can be grown and eaten as a substitute for bean sprouts. It is reported to be very susceptible to herbicide drift. (Source: warcapps.usgs.gov)