Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Pink Bush Clover
Lespedeza thunbergii

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lespedeza (less-pe-DEEZ-a) (Info)
Species: thunbergii (thun-BERG-ee-eye) (Info)

Synonym:Lespedeza sieboldii

14 members have or want this plant for trade.

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36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

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:
Sun to Partial Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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4 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive crystalmaster On Sep 8, 2013, crystalmaster from Irmo, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:

September 2011, I was gifted a lespedeza as small plant (18" high) by a fellow master gardener near Columbia, South Carolina, Hardiness Zone 8. The 3 foot high, 6 ft cascading spread in a raised bed in my front yard is a site to behold. The lavender/purple blooms, 5 ft long, delicate branches with blue-gray foliage is one of the prettiest plants I have been gifted.
This is my second September enjoying this beautiful subshrub and I plan to root several to pass along to friends, and add to the landscape of gardens I "pamper" in my neighborhood. I have yet to experiment with rooting, but hope to find shoots to share with friends for their gardens....or mine.
Has anyone had any luck with rooting cuttings in water, or should I start in potting soil?

Positive coriaceous On Oct 8, 2012, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

A beautiful, tough plant with no pests or diseases here, it puts on a spectacular show when in flower from late August into early October. Especially beautiful weeping down from the top of a retaining wall.

A fast grower, it reaches mature size in two seasons. It is very late to show signs of life in the spring, often not till June here, but then it makes up for lost time. It's best cut back close to the ground in early spring like a butterfly bush. Usually has some dieback but doesn't generally die back to the ground here in USDA Zone 6.

Established plants are very drought-tolerant, and they also tolerate partial shade. Mature size here in Massachusetts is no more than 6' x 6'

Should be grown far more often in the Northeast. This plant is invasive in the southeast, spreading both by seed and by self-layering.

Lespedeza thunbergii is recognized by the USDA-NRCS Plant Material Program as a plant that may become weedy or invasive in some regions or habitats and may displace desirable vegetation if not properly managed ( http:// ). It is listed as a nonnative invasive plant for forests in the Southeastern United States and has even become widespread enough to require control measures. The Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council (EPPC) lists it as a category 3 problem in Georgia ( ). The EPPC of Kentucky also lists it as an invasive plant ( ).

Positive bermudakiller On Sep 23, 2007, bermudakiller from Union Grove, AL wrote:

I raised my plants from seed to be used as a vegtable, not all that good to eat but interesting, especialy the blooms, OK in salads but dull and slightly bitter alone. In it's fourth year it is about 9 feet high and 12 to 15 feet wide, would be taller and narrower if they weren't so loaded with blooms, they are quite bent at the moment, usually a vase shaped plant, but now a coarse fountain effect, it is a fair screen and worth raising for it's ornamental value alone, but not for the small yard. They are in a dry spot, heavily mulched, partialy rotted leaves about 3 inches in depth and get minimal water, but are more attractive when I give them some extra.

Positive Entlie On Sep 7, 2006, Entlie from New Bern, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

I bought this plant at the Tryon Palace historic plant sale in New Bern, NC. two years ago. It is lovely, but needs lots of space for it's beautiful softly cascading branches. I just moved mine, and it had started 6 suckers which were not attached to the main plant. It has been growing gangbusters in an area that was very wet. Now it's in a much drier area so hope it is as successful.

Neutral Terry On Jan 8, 2003, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Lespedeza is a woody perennial in warmer climates but often dies back to the rootstock in colder climates (hence the designation as both herbaceous and deciduous.)


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

Union Grove, Alabama
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Lakeland, Florida
Saint Petersburg, Florida
Williston, Florida
South Amana, Iowa
Silver Spring, Maryland
Leeds, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts
West Newbury, Massachusetts
Eupora, Mississippi
Helena, Montana
Ramsey, New Jersey
Lake Grove, New York
New Bern, North Carolina
New Philadelphia, Ohio
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Irmo, South Carolina
Memphis, Tennessee
Houston, Texas (2 reports)
San Antonio, Texas
Spring, Texas
Gloucester, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Purcellville, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia

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