Korean Clover (Stipulacea)

The Korean Clover (Stipulacea) is generally described as an annual forb/herb. This is not native to the U.S. (United States) and has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the spring and continuing until summer. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Korean Clover (Stipulacea) has a short life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Korean Clover (Stipulacea) will reach up to 1.5 foot high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Korean Clover (Stipulacea) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a rapid ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have high vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below 6°F. has medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Annual lespedezas are generally used for wildlife food and cover, forage, cover or nurse crop, and as temporary cover for erosion control.

General Characteristics

Korean and common lespedeza (Kummerowia striata) are introduced, annual, warm-season legumes. Flowers and seeds are borne in the leaf axils at the tips of stems and branches in the Korean lespedeza and in the leaf axils all along the stem in common lespedeza. Two types of flowers are produced. One is readily seen as purple-bluish and the other has no petals and is inconspicuous. Korean lespedeza has a much broader leaflet and stipule than common, and growth is generally larger and coarser. Common lespedeza grows more prostrate. The seed varies from the shiny black of Korean to the stippled seed of common. There are approximately 343,000 seeds per pound of common lespedeza and 240,000 seeds per pound of Korean lespedeza.

Required Growing Conditions

Korean is better adapted than common lespedeza in the North because of its shorter life cycle. Both types grow in a pH range of 4.5-7.0, but do best at 6.0-6.5. Common lespedeza (cultivar ‘Kobe’) is more tolerant of acid soils. They both grow in soil textures ranging from sands to clays and at fertility levels from low to high.

Korean lespedeza is distributed throughout the midwest and eastern United States.

Cultivation and Care

Seeding should be done in the early spring at a rate of 25 to 40 lb/acre in a well prepared seedbed. Seeding may be accomplished by drilling or broadcasting. If drilling, the seed should be placed at a depth of ½ inch. When broadcasting the seed, incorporate lightly by raking and then pack the soil surface. As with all legumes, the correct species rhizobial bacteria innoculant should be used. Annual Lespedeza may be seeded alone or preferably mixed with grain, grass, or other legumes. Soil fertility should be adjusted according to soil test recommendations.

General Upkeep and Control

Annual lespedezas should be grazed or cut for hay when in ½ bloom stage. All harvesting methods should leave a 3-inch stubble. Lespedezas are good companions with bunch-type grasses such as timothy, orchardgrass, and tall fescue. Sod-forming grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass provide too much competition. The advantage of using lespedeza with grasses is that the legume can provide much needed summer grazing when cool-season grasses are dramatically slower in biomass production. Lespedezas will reseed themselves but must be mechanically reseeded at some point to maintain adequate stands.

Pests and Potential Problems Annual lespedezas are relatively unaffected by insect pests and diseases.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) The three cultivars of Korean lespedeza are ‘Climax’, ‘Harbin’, and ‘Rowan’. ‘Kobe’ is the one important variety of common lespedeza. Seed is readily available from commercial seed dealers

Control Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist or county weed specialist to learn what works best in your area and how to use it safely. Always read label and safety instructions for each control method. Trade names and control measures appear in this document only to provide specific information. USDA, NRCS does not guarantee or warranty the products and control methods named, and other products may be equally effective.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Annual
Lifespan Short
Plant Nativity Introduced to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Spring
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance Medium
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 1.5
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Purple
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Spring Summer
Seed Spread Rate Rapid
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature 6
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate Slow
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing No
Growth Requirements
pH Range 5.5–7.5 pH
Precipitation Range 30–30 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 8
Minimum Frost-Free Days 160 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance Low
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA