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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)



Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round


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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Delta, Colorado

Denver, Colorado (2 reports)

Dunnellon, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Boise, Idaho

Champaign, Illinois

Machesney Park, Illinois

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Rice, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Cole Camp, Missouri

Clarksville, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Linden, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

La Crosse, Wisconsin

Rice Lake, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 19, 2016, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

Native to central N. America from Ontario and Manitoba to Montana and south to LA, TX, and NM.

Unlike A. fruticosa, this species has not been reported to be ecologically invasive outside its native range.


On Aug 18, 2016, janelp_lee from Toronto, ON (Zone 6a) wrote:

Very hardy medicinal shrub. Easy to grow.

"Medicinal Use: The Omaha Indians powdered the dried leaves and blew them into cuts and open wounds. The astringent property of the leaves encouraged scab formation. The Potawatomi Indians made a leaf tea to kill pinworms, various intestinal worms, and the liquid tea was used to cure eczema.--quote from WildOnes info.


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.


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

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


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.


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


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