Lespedeza hirta (L.) Hornem.

Hairy Bush-clover

Habitat: Dry soils. [Dry barrens (partly forested, upland); Hardwood to mixed forest (forest, upland)]

Range: Maine and Ontario to Florida, Minnesota, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

Aids to Identification: Bush-clovers are upright, stiff herbs with the characteristic flowers of the pea family. They have 3 leaflets per leaf that lack stipules (small narrow appendanges at the base of the leaflets), and, unique in Maine, a single seeded fruit that does not split open. Separated from the other bush-clovers in Maine (Lespedeza capitata and L. intermedia) by the combination of yellow-white flowers 3.5-7 mm long and peduncles (stalk of the flower clusters) exceeding the length of the subtending leaves. Lespedeza hirta hybridizes with both other species of Lespedeza in Maine, so great care is required with identifications.

Ecological characteristics: Ecological relationships in Maine are not well known.

Phenology: Flowers August - October.

Family: Fabaceae

Synonyms: Maine and New England populations are represented by ssp. hirta. Synonyms include Lespedeza capitata (L.) Hornem. spp. calycina (Schindl.) Fern.; Lespedeza polystachya Michx.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 2 town(s) in the following county(ies): Cumberland, York.

Reason(s) for rarity: At northern limit of range.

Conservation considerations: Unknown, appears to favor dry, semi-open areas.