Scientific Name: Lespedeza virginica
Taxonomy Group: Vascular Plants
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2013
Last COSEWIC Designation: Endangered
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Image of Slender Bush-clover
This is a perennial herb with one to several erect, simple stems which are sometimes branched near the top. In Ontario, seed bearing plants range from 13 to 71 cm in height. The trifoliate leaves give the plant a top-heavy, wand-like appearance. The terminal leaflets are lightly pubescent (hairy) above, and 4-6 times as long as wide. The flowers are purple, 6-8 mm long, and occur in a few short racemes from the axils of the upper leaves, to form a crowded leafy inflorescence.
Distribution and Population
In the U.S., the plant occurs from central New England, southern Michigan, southern Iowa and eastern Kansas, south to northern Florida and eastern Texas. It is abundant in the southern portion of its range. In Canada, it is restricted to Essex County, Ontario, where two extant and two extirpated populations are known, totalling nearly 200 plants in 1997. This is a marginal increase from the single location with 150 plants reported in 1984.
In Ontario, this species appears to be restricted to prairie-like relics in Essex County. (Due to its southern position and proximity to the Great Lakes, Essex County has the warmest and driest climate of southern Ontario). The known sites have open, dry or dry-mesic, sandy soils; exposed mineral soil; and ground layer vegetation dominated by a specific association of prairie plants. The apparent requirement of exposed mineral soil indicates that some form of habitat disturbance may be necessary to maintain suitable conditions for this species. Also, the plant does not appear to be able to regenerate under dense shade, nor withstand even moderate levels of interspecific competition.
Throughout its range, the Slender Bush Clover blooms in August or September. It produces both showy and inconspicuous flowers. Seed production is low in small plants, but several hundred seeds may be produced by larger plants. The fruit remains on the plant for much of the winter. Bush clovers are eaten by a variety of insects, most notably the larvae of several butterfly species.
Both Ontario locations are now protected as parkland by the City of Windsor. Succession threatens the long term viability of both sites and the population remains at a relatively low level. The prescribed spring grass fires which are frequent at this site may be necessary to remove the litter buildup (resulting in warmer soil temperatures), reduce soil fertility, and reduce interspecific competition, especially from shade producing shrubs and cool season herbs. The potential remains for accidental elimination of either site by human activity.
Federal ProtectionThe Slender Bush-clover is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
The Slender Bush-clover is protected by the Ontario Endangered Species Act. Under this Act, it is prohibited to kill, harm, harass, or collect this species, or to destroy its habitat. The regulation applies only to sites in the Tallgrass Prairie Heritage Park, Ojibway Park, and Black Oak Heritage Park.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
Status of Recovery Planning
Recovery Strategies :
Name Recovery Strategy for the Slender Bush-clover (Lespedeza virginica) in Canada
Status First posting on SAR registry
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
6 record(s) found.
- COSEWIC Status Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Assessments (1 record(s) found.)
- Response Statements (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Strategies (1 record(s) found.)
- COSEWIC Annual Reports (1 record(s) found.)
- Recovery Document Posting Plans (1 record(s) found.)
COSEWIC Status Reports
COSEWIC Annual Reports
Recovery Document Posting Plans
- Date modified: