Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast
Common Name: Bicolor Lespedeza, Shrubby Lespedeza
Scientific Name: Lespedeza bicolor
Identification: Bicolor Lespedeza is a branched deciduous shrub that may reach 3 to 10 feet in height. The leaves are alternate with 3 elliptical leaflets. The upright stems are gray to green. Four to 6 inch long pea- like, purple flowers appear in June to September. Small pods containing a single black seed appear from August to March.
Ecology: Bicolor Lespedeza is a rapid-growing shrub that spreads in openings and under forest canopies. This invasive shrub was introduced for soil stabilization and in wildlife food plots. The plant can form dense stands that limit forest regeneration. The seeds of Bicolor Lespedeza often are spread by wildlife.
Plant Control: In the home landscape, Bicolor Lespedeza clumps can be dug up and bagged in large heavy duty garbage bags so the seeds do not spread. If digging is not an option, spray actively growing clumps with a 5% glyphosate and surfactant solution in late summer. For larger infestations, mowing or weed-eating 1 to 3 months before herbicide application can assist control. If glyphosate is not effective and the lespedeza comes back the following year, try spraying with a triclopyr-based product. To avoid having to purchase a large quantity of a triclopyr concentrate such as Garlon, you may want to buy a pint or quart container of Brush-B-Gon Poison Ivy Killer at the hardware or home supply warehouse. Monitor and re-treat as needed until eradicated.
Alternative Native Species: Blackberry (Rubus spp.), Beggarlice (Desmodium spp.), Blue Wild Indigo (Baptisia australis)
When using herbicides remember to follow label-recommendations. Any mention of trade, products, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by North Carolina State University.
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