Saturday, January 24, 2009

Native and Exotic Bushclovers at Glennstone

Found nowhere else in the Ellerbe Creek watershed, the Round-Headed Bushclover (Lespedeza capitata) is a special plant species in the Glennstone Preserve. Needing lots of sunlight to prosper, it grows in clearings and especially along the sewer line right of way, which is a utilitarian name for a very attractive ribbon of grasses and wildflowers that threats through the preserve. The right of way is kept free of trees to allow access for maintenance of the sewer line buried beneath.

The large seeds of Round-Headed Bushclover are an important food for quail, wild turkey and mourning doves.

In the fourth photo you can see seeds from three kinds of bushclover at Glennstone. The largest, upper left in the photo, are from the round-headed bushclover. The next largest are from Slender Bushclover (Lespedeza virginica), which is also a native.

The smallest seeds in the photo are from a highly invasive exotic called Sericea Lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata). Originally planted by the Dept. of Transportation for erosion control, it is now considered a noxious weed in 46 states. Though its seeds were thought to be good for wildlife, it is now believed that its small seeds move through birds undigested.

The exotic lespedeza has been invading the Glennstone Preserve along the sewer line, and is aggressive enough to completely displace the native bushclovers that wildlife need for food. ECWA has been working to eradicate this noxious weed from the preserve before it does more damage. The exotic lespedeza has a white flower, which is useful in distinguishing it from the pink-flowered native Slender Bushclover (last photo).

More information about the Round-Headed Bushclover can be found at

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