Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Amorpha canescens (Leadplant)
Flaigg, Norman G.

Amorpha canescens

Amorpha canescens Pursh

Leadplant, Leadplant Amorpha, Prairie Shoestring

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

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.


From the Image Gallery

15 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

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


USA: AR , CO , IA , IL , IN , KS , MI , MN , MO , MT , ND , NE , NM , 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

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: 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 Treatment: Scarification and stratification are necessary if seeds are stored. Scarification can be accomplished with a 10-minute hot water soak.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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 on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Amorpha canescens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Amorpha canescens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Amorpha canescens


Record Modified: 2022-11-11
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back