Content Detail

A late season bloomer, shrub bush-clover is a good addition for late summer or fall color. Arching stems on this sub-shrub give the plant a cascading effect.

  • Family (English) Pea
  • Family (botanic) Fabaceae (formerly Leguminosae)
  • Tree or plant type Perennial, Shrub
  • Foliage Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches), Small shrub (3-5 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Dry soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites
  • Season of interest midsummer, late summer
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink, Purple
  • Shape or form Columnar, Open, Upright
  • Growth rate Fast

Size & form:

Shrub bush-clover is an upright, branched shrub or sub-shrub reaching 3 to 10 feet high. Dies to ground in cold, northern climates, so it is considered a herbaceous perennial in these areas.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

Native to China, Korea, and Japan.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife: 

Birds are attracted to the seeds.

Bark color and texture:

Thin, arching stems are whitish-tan.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Alternate leaf arrangement with 2 inch long, trifolate ( three-leaved), elliptical leaflets. Leaves are dark green, changing to yellow-green in fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Erect, pea-shaped, rose-purple flowers up to 5 inches long on tips and leaf axils of current seasons growth. Flowers mid-summer in July and August.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Small, ovate single-seeded pods are ⅓ inch long.

Plant care:

Best planted in full sun in well-drained, dry soils. Prune in winter or early spring to encourage new growth. Stems die back to ground in cold winters. Do not fertilize.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

Wet, clay soil can cause root rot. Tolerant of aerial salt spray.

Summer Beauty shrub bush-clover (Lespedeza bicolor ‘Summer Beauty’):

A 3 to 5 feet high, upright shrub with violet-pink flowers.

Yakushima shrub bush-clover (Lespedeza bicolor ‘Yakushima’):

A low-growing, 12 to 18 inches high, mounded shrub with small blue-green leaves and violet-purple flowers. Considered to be a non-invasive dwarf form.

Edo Shibori Thunberg’s bush-clover (Lespedeza thunbergii ‘Edo Shibori’):

A late summer flowering shrub blooms with bi-color, rosy-pink and white flowers on a 4 to 6 feet high plant.


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