Chinese lespedeza was introduced as forage but was found to be too tough and nasty-tasting for wildlife and livestock. Since then it has spread all over the eastern and midwestern United States. In North Carolina, it thrives in open habitats: meadows, open woodlands, fields, pond edges, roadsides, etc.
It grows to 2 - 5' in height on woody stems with numerous straight branches. It can be identified by its wedge-shaped leaf bases on its leaflets. Leaves grow in groups of 3, which are arranged alternatively along the stem. It blooms from July to October. Its flowers are white with violet throats.
Fact Sheet: Chinese Lespedeza
Photo credits (left to right): Dan Tenaglia, Missouriplants.com, Bugwood.org; James H. Miller, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org
Photo Credit: G.A. Cooper of Smithsonian Institute