University of Maryland Extension

Common Lespedeza or Japanese Clover

Common Lespedeza or Japanese clover (Lespedeza striata)

Common Lespedeza

Photo: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,

(More lawn weeds)  (Control Options) (General Weed Gallery)

General Description: Common lespedeza, also known as Japanese clover, (Kummerowia striata, syn. Lespedeza striata) is prostrate summer annual that forms 15-18 inch patches. The stems are wiry.  It has dark green trifoliate (arranged in threes) leaves with three oblong, smooth leaflets. Leaflets have parallel veins nearly at right angles to a prominent mid-vein. Its leaves have smooth edges and a short spur at the tip of each leaflet. Flowers in late summer with small pink to purple, single flowers found in leaf axils on most of the nodes of the main stems. It grows very low to the ground and chokes out thin turf.
Conditions that favor growth: Grows in areas of thin, under-fertilized turf in poor soil

close up of tiny purple flower

Photo: Rebekah D. Wallace,
University of Georgia,

Flower and parallel veins on leaves

low growing patch of Common Lespedeza

Photo: James Miller & Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society,

Prostrate growth habit

Cultural control: Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.
Mechanical control: Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.
General chemical control: Spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients:
2, 4-DMCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba (be careful when using around tree and shrub roots) or Triclopyr. 

Organic control: 

For a glossary of herbicide terms and additional information see: control options     


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