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Lespedeza (hirta)

John M. Englert
USDA NRCS - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center
Bldg. 509, BARC - East, E. Beaver Dam Road
Beltsville, Maryland 20705
(301) 504-8175
(301) 504-8741 (fax)

Family Scientific Name: Fabaceae
Family Common Name: Bean Family
Scientific Name: Lespedeza hirta
Common Name: Hairy leaf clover
Species Code: LESHIR
Ecotype: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
General Distribution: Dry soil, Maine to Michigan and Missouri, south to Florida and Texas.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Time To Grow: 0
Target Specifications: Stock Type: Perennial legume plug. The recommended seeding method is direct sowing scarified, inoculated seed into a prepared outdoor planting bed, however plugs have been started in the greenhouse for outplanting into already vegetated areas of the park. Height: 3-4 inches. Root System: Roots should fill 72 plug trays by outplanting date. We have had difficulty pulling them from Ropak multipot cells because they either do not fill the cell or rip upon removal.
Propagule Collection: Collected in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove by National Park Service staff in 1996.
Propagule Processing: Seed Processing: A small amount of seed was harvested from the National Plant Materials Center seed production blocks in late November.
Seeds/Kg: 250,000
Germination: Not tested; yield in 1997 was 6 plugs per gram of seed sown; or roughly 2%.
Purity: Not determined. Too little produced.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seed Treatments: Seed is scarified for 50 seconds in pulses prior to planting (15, 15, 10 and 5 second increments) and inoculated with appropriate nitrogen-fixing rhizobium.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Propagation Environment: Greenhouse with alternating day/night temperatures; daytime temperatures vary from 70-85§F depending on natural solar; night temperatures average around 65-68§F. Plugs were grown under 14-16 hour long day conditions using high pressure sodium lighting from 4:30-10:30 p.m.

Seed Propagation Method: Hand sown.

Container Type and Volume: 72 trays.

Growing Media: Sunshine #5 with no slow release fertilizer. If seedlings go off color, a light supplemental soluble fertilizer feeding may be tried as needed.
Establishment Phase: Sowing Date: Jan. 5, 2001.

% Emergence and Date: Seeds were germinated on blotter under mist rather than sowing in media because of low germination rates. Seeds are picked off the blotter and planted as they germinate. Germination in 2001 has been low and has occurred over several weeks.

Sowing/Planting Technique: Scarified seed is inoculated with slurry of nitrogen-fixing rhizobium, spread in one layer on blotter paper and held under mist until germination occurs. See '% Emergence and Date:' above.

Establishment Phase: Spring, 2001 crop has been slow to establish and required a second sowing. Those that germinated were transplanted to 72 trays and most are still small seedling size at 75 days post germination. Fertilized at low rates only when plants go off color.
Active Growth Phase: Rapid Growth Phase: No evidence of one at this writing (3/23/01).
Hardening Phase: Hardening Phase: Approximately 2 weeks prior to outplanting, temperatures are reduced in the green house or plants are moved outdoors to a sheltered location, weather permitting.
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Total Time to Harvest: Has not been established. In 1997, plugs were seeded in late October and outplanted in March. Germination was low and the plugs did not grow well in the greenhouse. Seeds sown in January, 2001 were very slow to germinate and have not produced decent-sized plants by the end of March.

Harvest Date: Plugs are outplanted in park in May. Seed is harvested in November.

Storage Conditions: Plants are not overwintered.

Seed storage: Seed stored in seed bags in National Plants Materials Center cooler at 40186;F, 35% relative humidity.

Seed dormancy: Mechanical.
Other Comments: We have tried plug production of Lespedeza hirta for Great Smoky Mountains National Park only two times with marginal success.
References: Gleason, H and A Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second ed. Bronx, NY: New York Botanical Garden. 910 pp.


Davis, Kathy M.; Kujawski, Jennifer. 2001. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Lespedeza hirta plants USDA NRCS - Norman A. Berg National Plant Materials Center Beltsville, Maryland. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2020/09/18). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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