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Scientific Name

Amorpha canescens Pursh

Short Description

Leadplant is a small native warm-season perennial legume with lead-gray foliage and accenting purple flowers.


Leadplant is a small native warm-season perennial leguminous shrub adapted to the central one-half of the United States extending from Mexico into Canada. Leadplant is found growing in most all types of soils with an average annual rainfall of 20 to 45 inches. The presence of leadplant on the prairie is an indication the prairie is in excellent health. Leadplant is very high protein and subsequently it is readily grazed by all classes of livestock and wildlife.  Leadplant is relatively shade tolerant but when placed in shade it will grow towards the sunlight. Leadplant’s comparatively slow establishment and low seed production prevent it from being a dominant species on the prairie. It is a favorite among prairie enthusiast for its lead-gray appearance and accenting purple flowers.

Plant Taxonomy of Leadplant

 Kingdom   Plantae
 Subkingdom  Tracheobionta
 Superdivision   Spermatophyta 
 Division    Magnoliophyta
 Class   Magnoliopsida 
 Subclass   Asteridae  
 Order   Asteraceae
 Family  Asterales
 Genus    Amorpha
 Species  canescans Pursh  

Plant Characteristics of Leadplant

 Height  24 to 36 inches 
 Growth habit  shrub with single stems and few branches
 Bloom color  light to dark purple
 Bloom period  late spring and summer    
 Sun requirement  full sun
 Leaf foilage color  green with fine hairs giving it a grayish lead color
 Seeds per pound  195,000 hulled
 Minimum soil temperature for germination  60 ºF
 Soil pH range  5.5 to 8.0
 Planting Rate  4 oz/1000 or 10 lbs/acre
 Planting Depth   ¼ to ½ inch
 Planting season  scarified seed: spring; unscarified seed: fall

*Special considerations for spring planting: seed germination can be improved with mechanical scarification. Seed needs to be inoculated with Rhizobium for nitrogen fixation to occur. Germination of scarified seed generally occurs within 2 weeks after planting provided adequate soil moisture and temperature conditions are met.

Uses of Leadplant


Attractive as an accent plant, in mass plantings as well as in species mixes.


Palatable and nutritious native legume.


Highly palatable, tends to be overgrazed.

Leadplant Seedling and Growth Guide

18 days after planting                                                             28 days after planting

34 days after planting                                                                 65 days after planting