ROUND-HEAD BUSH CLOVER
File Size: 70 KB
 
Lespedeza capitata  Michx.
Riley County, Kansas
Perennial
Height: 2-5 feet
Family: Fabaceae - Bean Family
Flowering Period:   August, September
Also Called: Round-head lespedeza.
Stems: Erect, 1 to several, mostly unbranched, rigid, leafy, silvery soft- or appressed-hairy.
Leaves: Alternate, short-stalked to sessile, pinnately 3-foliolate; leaflets elliptic or oblong, 1 to 2 inches long, less than 1/2 inch wide, nearly glabrous or silky- or appressed-hairy above, densely pubescent below; margins entire; tips abruptly short-pointed.
Inflorescences: Racemes, head-like, rounded, leafy, 10-45-flowered, terminal, on short stalks or sessile in upper leaf axils.
Flowers: Less than 1/4 inch long; calyces bell-shaped, lobes 5, pointed; corollas papilionaceous, white or cream; banner longer than wings and keel, reddish purple spot at base; stamens 10, 9 united, 1 free.
Fruits: Pods, oblong, about 1/5 inch long, hairy, enclosed in persistent calyces, 1-seeded; seeds flattened, shiny, brown to black.
Habitat: Dry, upland prairies, old fields, roadsides, and open wooded hillsides, on sandy or well-drained soils.
Distribution: East 2/3 of Kansas.
Forage Value: Round-head bush clover is a palatable and nutritious native legume that is readily grazed by livestock. Upland game birds consume the seeds.
Uses: Native Americans made a tea from the leaves and burned pieces of moistened stem on the skin as a counter-irritant to treat rheumatism.
Comments: The Pawnee called this plant "rabbit foot" because of the shape its flower heads. The roots of round-head bush clover grow 5-8 feet long.

Round-head bush clover flowers
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Riley County, Kansas
Round-head bush clover leaflets
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Riley County, Kansas
Round-head bush clover inflorescences
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Riley County, Kansas
Round-head bush clover pods
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Riley County, Kansas
Round-head bush clover in fruit
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Riley County, Kansas