En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - June 19, 2014

From: Millersville , PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Invasive Plants, Non-Natives, Plant Identification
Title: Differences between Desmodium and Lespedezda
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

i am trying to determine the difference between lespedeza and desmodium in my full sun wildflower and tall grasses meadow. There appear to be a number of different types of these plants, and they are becoming more numerous than I wish. I also have quite a bit of crown vetch which I am controlling with Stinger, which also knocks out the other composite flowers, but without it the crown vetch would destroy everything. Any help on determining the differences mentioned at the beginning, and the need/means for control.

ANSWER:

The major difference appears to be the type of fruit produced.   The fruits of Desmodium spp. are flat with 2-6 one-seeded segments.  The fruits of Lespedeza spp. are flattened, 1-seeded and ovate or round.

From Shinners & Mahler Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas pp. 652 and 654, line drawings on pp. 657 and 659.


"DESMODIUM  TICK-CLOVER, BEGGAR'S LICE, BEGGAR'S-TICKS

Ours perennial herbs; leaves pinnately compound; leaflets 3 (except D. psilophyllum with 1 leaflet); stipules broad or narrow; persistent or falling early; flowers small, usually many, in erect, narrow racemes or panicles; petals pink, lavender, red-purple, purple, or whitish, often drying bluish or a striking blue-green; fruits (loments) flat, constricted into ca. 2-6 one-seeded segments, usually with small hooked hairs.  In nc TX the genus is easily identified in the field because it is the only native group with flat fruits breaking into segments."

From Shinners & Mahler Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas pp. 666 amd 668, line drawings on pp. 669 & 673.

"LESPEDEZA  BUSH-CLOVER

Perennial herbs; leaves rather small, numerous, and crowded, short-petioled, pinnately compound with 3 leaflets, leaflets entire; stipules inconspicuous, slender, linear to nearly threadlike; flowers usually small, axillary or terminal, in pairs or in head-like or loose racemes or panicles; petals white to cream to purplish or pinkish (on open flowers; cleistogamous flower also produced by some species); stamens 10,  diadelphous; fruits flattened, 1-seeded, indehiscent, usually ovate or rounded; style elongate on chasmogamous fruits (though easily broken off), recurved tightly on cleistogamous fruits."

From Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania, Coronilla varia [synonym = Securigera varia] (Crown Vetch) was introduced from the Mediterranean area and is now considered invasive in many areas. The description of Coronilla varia appears on pp. 642 and 643 in Shinners & Mahler Illustrated Flora of North Central Texas with a line drawing on p. 645.

You can read about control methods for Crown Vetch on the Texas Invasives Database that recommends  integrated management using both manual and mechanical means along with chemical means.  These methods would also apply to the Desmodium spp. and the Lespedeza ssp. if you decide to control them, too.  One important step is to be sure that you get the plants before they go to seed and discard them in a seald plastic bag in the garbage.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Panicledleaf ticktrefoil
Desmodium paniculatum

Tall bush-clover
Lespedeza stuevei

More Invasive Plants Questions

Non-native, invasive Paulownia for San Marcos TX
April 24, 2012 - Can a Paulownia tree grow in San Marcos? If so were can I get one?
view the full question and answer

Advisability of growing Silybum marianum (Milk thistle)
November 26, 2013 - I just received a load of clay-mix-dirt - and after our recent rains noticed the pile sprouting what looks like "Milk Thistle." Lots of them. The leaves are spiny and variegated - quite pretty. ...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating gift plant from flowerbed
June 20, 2010 - A neighbor gave me cuttings of a lush green plant with a blue flower with a yellow center that is only open in morning. It has become very invasive. I cut it back and dug at least 6-12" deep to get t...
view the full question and answer

Request for native grasses from Hillsboro TX
August 04, 2012 - P.S. I forgot to mention one very important fact: my neighbor specifically asked for "native grass" recommendations. He thought he was getting a native grass recommendation.
view the full question and answer

Plant around Pittsburg from Weirton WV
September 19, 2009 - I have seen this plant outside of the Pittsburgh,PA area and was told it is called Midnight Cowboy. It has bright yellow flowers and long green leaves that only comes out at night(so I am told). Ca...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center