Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Amorpha canescens

Leadplant, Leadplant amorpha, Prairie shoestring

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Amorpha canescens (Leadplant)
Flaigg, Norman G.
Leadplant is a small, deciduous shrub, 1-3 ft. tall, with tiny, purple flowers grouped together in colorful, terminal spikes. Pinnately compound leaves are covered with short, dense hairs, giving the plant a grayish appearance. This is one of the most conspicuous and characteristic shrubs of the upland prairies. The alternate common name Prairie Shoestring probably refers to the laced-shoestring look of the leaves and roots. It has very deep roots, 4 feet (1.2 m) or deeper.

The genus name, from the Greek amorphos (formless or deformed), alludes to the fact that the flower, with only a single petal (the banner or standard), is unlike the typical pea flowers of the family.

Image Gallery:

14 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul


USA: AR , CO , IL , IN , IA , KS , MI , MN , MO , MT , NE , NM , ND , OK , SD , TX , WI , WY
Canada: MB , ON , SK
Native Distribution: N. IN & s.e. MI to s. Man. & Carter Co., MT, s.w. to AR, TX & NM
Native Habitat: Well-drained prairies; rocky bluffs; open woodlands

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained, sandy or rocky soils.


Use Ornamental: Showy, Blooms ornamental, Ground cover, Attractive, Fruits ornamental
Use Wildlife: Nectar-insects, Browse, Fruit-mammals, Fruit-deer
Use Food: Native Americans used the leaves for smoking and for making a tea.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes

Last Update: 2012-12-06