Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Plant of the week: Leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

I remember years and years ago when I took my first range management course and we discussed plant increasers and decreasers (those that increase with grazing and those that decrease) and leadplant was high on the list of decreasers because it is not tolerant of heavy grazing, fire exclusion, or frequent mowing.  It's absence from tall grass prairie systems indicates the prairie is in poor ecological condition.  This is because it is a highly palatable and highly preferred browse species relished by most grazing animals, including deer.  It is an amazing legume because one single plant can produce more than 3,000 seeds, it is an important source of nectar for butterflies and more importantly, honeybees, which also eat the pollen.  At least 47 different insects feed on this plant.  Another amazing fact is that the taproot can extend 2 to 20' deep into the soil which makes this species quite drought tolerant. It is also very good at fixing nitrogen in the soil.  This also makes a fine garden plant and can be used in rocky, gravelly, or loamy soils that are dry and well-drained.  It grows to about 1 to 3' although if burned or grazed it can maintain itself as a relatively short (1') plant.  It typically flowers in July through September and it can re-sprout from rhizomes or root crown if the top dies back. The bi-pinnately compound leaves may have up to 50 leaflets and can be up to 12" long and have a whitish soft or grayish green appearance.  The stems are hairy.  Each flowering spike can be up to 4" or more in length and it is striking to see the bright yellow anthers against the purple flowers.  If you are a honey producer, this is an outstanding plant to use for bees.  It can stay in flower for up to a month, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the varying textures and colors of this small shrub.

1 comment:

  1. I have seen pictures of this plant but have not seen it "in person," and have been interested in growing it but didn't know enough about it until now. I think I've been swayed by your description and information - thank you..