Amorpha canescens (lead plant) is a purple native flower in the Fabaceae (bean) family.
The purple fuzzy flowers are arranged on 10 centimeter (4 inch) spikes at the end of the branches. Eight rust colored stamens with bright orange anthers are protected by the purple petals. While the flowers are unscented they are beautiful and will stay in bloom for 3 weeks in early summer.
Leaves are compound and about 10 inches long with as many as 50 small leaflets. Growing up to 3 feet tall and with stems that are slightly erect, lead plant can grow in part shade or full sun and prefers slightly dry to very dry soil. As it grows it will become more woody.
The genus Amorpha is a group of peas that are all native to North America; lead plant is native to the Midwest from Canada to Texas. It is hardy to USDA Zones 2-9. Lead plant as the common name originates from the fine white hairs that are more visible on mature leaves. New leaves are bright green. Designers use lead plant in borders, meadows, and wildflower gardens. It pairs well with Dalea Purpurea (purple prairie clover) and Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master).
The roots are very deep and can grow more than 15 feet into the ground. This root system makes it very well adapted to surviving fires and drought. Being a bean this plant is nitrogen fixing and is often used in restoration projects.
|Botanical Name||Amorpha canescens|
|Common Name||lead plant|
|USDA Zone||2 thru 9|
|Light Requirement||Full Sun|
|Season(s) of interest||summer, fall|
|Height and Spread||2-3ft x 2-2.5ft (60-90cm x 60-75cm)|
|Flower Color||Blue, Purple|
|Attracts Wildlife||Hosts Caterpillars of Butterflies/Moths, Attracts Pollinators,|
|Additional Information||Native to Chicago Region.|
|Location in Lurie Garden||Northeast Light Plate, Bird Border – Monroe|