Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lespedeza thunbergii

In late September this is the shrub that blooms most profusely at Roche Fleurie.  The common name is Bush Clover. Being of the pea family (Fabaceae), the flowers look very much like some clover flowers, but the plant forms a shrub, hence Bush Clover.

Bush Clover

It is said to prefer light sandy soil, but I expect it is rather adaptable as here it is growing in heavy clay and seems to be doing very well.

It apparently can reach almost 2-3 meters. Our plant, which is about five years old, is about a meter tall and perhaps a meter and a half wide. It would no doubt grow taller, if it was not cut down in the late autumn.

Close-up of the flowers

The individual flowers look like sweet pea flowers.

They grow in full sun and require very little maintenance. They are supposed to be hardy to about -30C.   Since they bloom on new wood, they should be cut to the ground in late autumn or early spring. They look unkempt if allowed to grow tall.

It is a pity we planted ours near a path as it half blocks it. However since it is cut down in the fall, you brush against it only towards the end of the season when it is at its best.


It was named by the botanist Michaux after one of his friends, Lespedez, a Spanish governor of Florida.

A native of Japan and China, it can be grown from seed in spring or from cuttings in summer. There is a white variety.

We have never grown Lespedeza bicolor, which is supposed to be hardier and blooms light purple in summer.

It blooms at the same time as Buddleja and Sweet Autumn clematis (Clematis panciulata or C. ternifolia) as can be seen in the picture below.


  1. I've not heard of this plant before, it is beautiful! Interesting to read that it grows in heavy clay, I must give it a try if I can find one.

  2. I see why you picked it to begin; it's lovely.

  3. I know that Lespedeza, it´s a wonderful shrub, you can keep it in good shape. Good idea to cut it down in late autumn.

  4. I've seen it in our Botanic Gardens in Saint Petersburg, but here it needs to be covered for overwinter, Alain. Do you cover yours? I love its flowers!

  5. Very nice. You say you cut it down in fall. So is it a woody plant or herbaceous? Or semi-woody like Buddleia?

  6. Hello Alain (I have been out of the blog-o-sphere ? for a while)
    This is such a pretty shrub and to have it timed for Autumn blooming is perfect. I think I have read about it before and if I had the room I would get it, if available.
    Yours looks lovely on the pathway !
    Joy : )

  7. Hello Alain, I don't recall seeing these at the Garden Centre, but your specimen plant looks stunning in flower. If we can find them, then I can imagine have some in points and some in the ground, especially as they flower later in the year when most other things have already finished.

  8. What a gorgeous plant! And the timing of the blooms is perfect!

  9. Beautiful! I have a white one called ' White Fountain', but yours is much more eye- catching. I didn't know it was discovered by Michaux. Have you tried growing the biennial perennial Michauxia? It is like a huge white Catherine Wheel.


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