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Invasive, Exotic Plants of the Southeast

Sericea Lespedeza

Sericea Lespedeza

Common Name: Sericea Lespedeza, Chinese Lespedeza

Scientific Name: Lespedeza cuneata

Identification: Sericea Lespedeza is a perennial upright forb reaching 3 to 6 feet in height. Leaves are alternate and composed of numerous 3-leaflet clusters.  The small leaves are usually green with white beneath.  The stem is gray-green.  The white flowers are composed of 1 to 3 pea-like flowers and appear from July to September.  Clustered legume pods are scattered around the stem, contain one seed, and mature from October to March.

Ecology: Sericea Lespedeza occurs in forest openings and dry to wet sites.  The invasive forb is flood tolerant  and forms dense stands by sprouting from roots.  The species spreads from plantings and the seeds can remain viable for decades.

Plant Control:Sericea can be difficult to control. Spray plants with a 5% glyphosate and surfactant solution in late summer. Mowing 1 to 3 months before herbicide application can assist control.  If glyphosate is not effective and the sericea 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: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), Splitbeard Bluestem (Andropogon ternarius), Beggarlice (Desmodium spp.), Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)

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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