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Leadplant

Leadplant
Amorpha canescens
(Order Fabales; Family Fabaceae)

 


Leadplant in bloom (http://www.prairieworksinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/amocanfilephoto.jpg)

 

Diagnosis: Leadplant is an erect, bushy perennial usually 0.5 to 1.0 m tall.  It is covered in dense, gray hairs.  The hairy leaves are arranged in an alternate, pinnately compound pattern.  The leaflets are roughly 1 cm long, egg-shaped and occur in many pairs.  Roots of the leadplant are branched and creeping, with small tuber-like projections and can extend as far as 16 feet. Inflorescences on the leadplant occur in dense, elongated clusters at the ends of branches.  They are typically 5-12 cm long.  Flowers are bluish, purple, or sometimes white.  The fruits are produced in gray-hairy, spotted pods about 4 mm long.  Each pod contains one seed. 


Flowering leadplant (left, http://www.kswildflower.org/largePhotos.php?imageID=467&aCategory=f&lastModified=2007-09-07).  Lead plant leaf (right, http://www.kswildflower.org/largePhotos.php?imageID=2001&aCategory=f&lastModified=2007-09-07)
 

Flowering Period: May, June, July, and August.


Insect visitors: Leadplants attract long- and short-tongued bees and wasps.  Insects that feed on leadplants include grasshoppers, caterpillars of moths, beetles, the plant bug and leafhoppers.
 

Distribution: Found across central North America (see http://www.lorenzsokseedsllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/lead-plant.png). In Kansas, Leadplant is found in the eastern 3/4s of the state (see http://plants.usda.gov/java/county?state_name=Kansas&statefips=20&symbol...)

 

Native status: Native to North America, from southern Canada to Northern Mexico.

 

Habitat: Prairies, pastures, meadows and roadsides.

 

Human uses: Dried leaves can be used for tea and pipe smoking.  Also a suitable plant for erosion control.

 

Conservation status: Not endangered.

 

References:
Barkley, T.M. 1983. Field Guide to the Common Weeds of Kansas. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS.

Haddock, Michael John. 2007. Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. (URL http://www.kswildflower.org/flower_details.php?flowerID=80)

Hilty, John. 2011. Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois. (URL http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/leadplantx.htm)

 

Image credits:
Leadplant: http://www.prairieworksinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/amocanfilephoto.jpg
Leadplant leaf: http://www.kswildflower.org/largePhotos.php?imageID=2001&aCategory=f&lastModified=2007-09-07
Flowering leadplant: http://www.kswildflower.org/largePhotos.php?imageID=467&aCategory=f&lastModified=2007-09-07
Distribution map: http://www.lorenzsokseedsllc.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/lead-plant.png

 

Submitted by: Amy Coffman, July 2011.

Wichita State University
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