round-headed bush clover

(Lespedeza capitata)

Conservation Status
round-headed bush clover
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

UPL - Obligate upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Round-headed bush clover is a 2 to 4 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on one or more stems from a taproot.

The stems are erect, leafy, and usually unbranched or with a few branches above the middle. They are densely covered with soft, silvery hairs.

The leaves are alternate, and compound, divided into 3 leaflets. They are on short, 1 16 to 3 16 long leaf stalks. The stalk of the terminal leaflet is longer than the leaf stalk. The leaflets are ascending, oval, 1 to 2 long, to ¾ wide, and may be tipped with a short, sharp, abrupt point. The hairiness of the upper surface is variable. They are usually covered in dense, soft, appressed, hairs, and often have a silvery sheen, but they may be hairless. The lower surface is always covered in dense, soft, appressed hairs. The margins are untoothed.

The inflorescence is a round, head-like, dense cluster of 10 to 45 crowded flowers. The clusters are on a short stalk at the ends of stems and branches, or are unstalked in the leaf axils. The flower heads turn dark brown when they mature.

The flowers are from less than ¼ to long and pea-like, with 5 petals organized into a broad banner at the top, 2 narrow wings, and a keel in the center formed by two petals fused together at the tip. The petals are cream colored (yellowish-white) with a pinkish or purple patch near the throat. There is no floral scent.

The fruit is a 1-seeded, hairy pod, about 1 5 long.




2 to 4


Flower Color


Cream colored (yellowish-white), with a pinkish or purple throat.


Similar Species


Prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya) has narrower leaflets and loose flower heads.


Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, sand dunes, woodland openings. Full to partial sun.




July to September


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  


Fabaceae (legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae  
  Tribe Desmodieae  
  Subtribe Lespedezinae  
  Genus Lespedeza (bush clovers and lespedezas)  

Subordinate Taxa






Hedysarum conglomeratum

Hedysarum frutescens

Hedysarum umbellatum

Lespedeza bicknellii

Lespedeza capitata f. argentea

Lespedeza capitata var. sericea

Lespedeza capitata var. stenophylla

Lespedeza capitata var. typica

Lespedeza capitata var. velutina

Lespedeza capitata var. vulgaris

Lespedeza frutescens

Lespedeza stuevei

Lespedeza velutina


Common Names


bush clover


dusty clover

round-head bush-clover

round-headed bush clover

roundhead lespedeza

round-head lespedeza

round-headed lespedeza













The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.


Compound leaf

A leaf that is divided into leaflets, each leaflet having the general appearance of a leaf, with all leaflets attached to a single leaf stem.

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Growing in the ditch on my property. First time seen this year.

    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  


    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  


    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  
    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  


    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  
    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  
    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  


    round-headed bush clover   round-headed bush clover  



  Lezpedeza capitata PRAIRIE BUSHCLOVER
Frank Mayfield
  Lezpedeza capitata PRAIRIE BUSHCLOVER  



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Location: Fairview Township (Cass Cty)

Growing in the ditch on my property. First time seen this year.

round-headed bush clover  

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Carver Highlands WMA, South Unit

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