Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Lead Plant
Amorpha canescens

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Amorpha (a-MOR-fa) (Info)
Species: canescens (kan-ESS-kens) (Info)

5 vendors have this plant for sale.

13 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 2a: to -45.5 C (-50 F)
USDA Zone 2b: to -42.7 C (-45 F)
USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Medium Blue

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)
7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
Scarify seed before sowing

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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2 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive mlsaxton On Oct 22, 2010, mlsaxton from La Crosse, WI wrote:

I started my plant 3 years ago (zone 4) from bare root. It is now about 16" x 12". As a native shrub plant it is visually interesting as well as low maintenance.

Neutral frostweed On Nov 22, 2006, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Lead Plant Amorpha canescens is native to Texas and other States.

Neutral tcfromky On Oct 11, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Native American Indians dried the leaves to use for tea. They drank it for enjoyment but it was also used to treat for pinworms and other intestinal worms. A powder from the dried leaves was blown into open sores to aid in healing and scab development.

Positive garbanzito On Jun 24, 2003, garbanzito from Denver, CO (Zone 5a) wrote:

i have observed lead plant growing wild in the mountains of northern New Mexico.. in Denver, with little supplemental water, it has been slow to establish but in its third season, it finally came in to its own with a strong flowering.. textures of leaves & flowers are unusual and interesting

Neutral smiln32 On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Lead plant is a Missouri native that typically occurs in open woodlands, glades and prairies. This pea/bean family member is a somewhat ungainly, deciduous shrub growing 1-3' tall and featuring slender, dense, 4-8" spike-like clusters of tiny, bluish-purple flowers with gold anthers which bloom in May-June. Amorpha also features alternate, pinnately compound leaves with grayish green leaflets and densely hairy twigs. The genus Amorpha is often called false indigo because of its resemblance to plants of the genus Indigofera. Common name of lead plant refers to the once held belief that the plant was an indicator of the presence of lead in the ground


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Delta, Colorado
Denver, Colorado (2 reports)
Orlando, Florida
Boise, Idaho
Champaign, Illinois
Machesney Park, Illinois
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Rice, Minnesota
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Cole Camp, Missouri
Clarksville, Tennessee
Linden, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Rice Lake, Wisconsin

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