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Flaigg, Norman G.
Amorpha canescens Pursh
Leadplant, Leadplant amorpha, Prairie shoestring
Synonym(s): Amorpha brachycarpa
USDA Symbol: AMCA6
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul
, WY Canada: MB
, SK Native Distribution:
& 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 ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained, sandy or rocky soils.
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:
PropagationDescription: Scarified seeds may be planted in fall or cold-damp stratified and planted in the spring. Some references say fall sown seed need not be treated. Seedlings take 4 years to reach maturity and flowering.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Scarification and stratification are necessary if seeds are stored. Scarification can be accomplished with a 10-minute hot water soak.
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Evergreen privacy hedge and drought-resistant garden
July 21, 2008
I am looking for a hardy evergreen hedge for privacy in Northern Michigan. I have sandy soil. Also am interested in planting a drought garden with mostly sun in same sandy soil.
view the full question and answer
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Native Seed Network
- Corvallis, OR
Record Last Modified: 2012-12-06
Research By: TWC Staff