Roundhead Lespedeza (Capitata)

The Roundhead Lespedeza (Capitata) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the late summer, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Roundhead Lespedeza (Capitata) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a slow growth rate. At maturity, the typical Roundhead Lespedeza (Capitata) will reach up to 2.6 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 0 inches.

The Roundhead Lespedeza (Capitata) is not commonly available from nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -28°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Ethnobotanic: The Omaha and Ponca used the stems for a moxa to treat cases of neuralgia and rheumatism. The Comanche boiled the leaves for a beverage tea. The Meskwaki used the root as an antidote for poison. The Iroquois used the whole plant of Lespedeza (unidentified to species level) in combination with Euonymus obovata for stricture caused by something wrong with the blood.

Wildlife: Roundhead lespedeza seeds are an

important food source for the bobwhite quail.

General Characteristics

General: Bean Family (Fabaceae). This herbaceous, native, perennial has erect stems that are 6-15 dm, and simple and branched above. The petioles are 2-5 mm, shorter than the stalk of the terminal leaflet. The plant has numerous small trifoliolate leaves. The leaflets are 4.5 x 1.8 cm, variable in shape and pubescence. The flowers are ochroleucous and are arranged in spikes or heads. The calyx lobes are all separate and the wings exceed the keel. Each flower is subtended at the base by small bractlets. The fruits are indehiscent, and 1-seeded.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. This plant is found in dry, open woods, sand dunes, and prairies. It ranges from Maine and southern Quebec to Minnesota and South Dakota, south to Georgia, west Florida, and Texas.

General Upkeep and Control

LECI4"Basin wildrye establishes slowly and new seedings should not be grazed or hayed until at least late summer or fall of the second growing season. Basin wildrye makes its initial growth in early spring and matures seed by late summer. It reproduces primarily by seed and tillers.

Basin wildrye is palatable to all classes of livestock and wildlife. New stands should not be grazed until plants are at least 10 inches tall. Overgrazing, especially in spring, easily damages basin wildrye, and stubble of at least 10 inches should remain following grazing. Basin wildrye is ideal for providing wind protection in winter calving pastures. It holds approximately twice the nutrient value (7-8% protein) of wheatgrasses (3-4% protein) at maturity and can withstand heavy grazing and trampling in its dormant state.

Established stands can be grazed in late spring or fall (leave about 10 inches of stubble to protect plant health). Following grazing, little re-growth can be expected, even when the stand is irrigated. Basin wildrye is a low maintenance plant requiring little additional treatment or care. However, it may benefit from low levels of fertilization. Apply 30 pounds per acre on dryland plantings and 60 to 80 pounds per acre on irrigated plantings for optimum production.

Environmental Concerns: Basin wildrye is long-lived and spreads primarily via seed distribution. It is not considered weedy or an invasive species, but can spread into adjoining vegetative communities under ideal climatic and environmental conditions. Most seedings do not spread from original plantings. If they do spread, the rate is not alarming. Basin wildrye accessions with the same chromosome number (28 or 56) will cross with each other but are not noted for crossing with other native species or basin wildryes of a different chromosome number.

Seed Production Seed production of basin wildrye has been very successful under cultivated conditions. Row spacing of 36 inches (3.5 pounds PLS per acre) to 48 inches (3.0 pounds PLS per acre) is recommended. Cultivation will be needed for weed control and to maintain row culture.

Seed fields are productive for five to seven years. Average production of 150 to 200 pounds per acre can be expected under dryland conditions in 14 inch plus rainfall areas. Average production of 300 to 400 pounds per acre can be expected under irrigated conditions. Direct combining best completes harvesting. The seed heads have moderate rates of shatter and require close scrutiny of maturing stands. Seed is generally harvested in mid-August to September. Seed must be dried immediately after combining (12 percent bins/15 percent sacks moisture content). "

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Slow
General Type Forb/herb
Growth Period Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability No Known Source
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Late Summer
Displays Fall Colors No
Shape/Growth Form Multiple Stem
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Intolerant
Height When Mature 2.6
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color White
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required No
Minimum Temperature -28
Soil Depth for Roots 18
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 5.7–8.2 pH
Precipitation Range 19–19 inches/yr
Planting Density 0–0 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 18
Minimum Frost-Free Days 140 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance Medium
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Palatability Medium
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

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