March 28, 2013
|Figures 1-2. Sericea lespedeza (top) can grow from 2 to 7 feet tall. Flowers (left) bloom in late summer and range in color from white to cream to light yellow. (Photos courtesy Nebraska Department of Agriculture)|
Sericea Lespedeza Newest Noxious Weed
Sericea lespedeza (Figure 1) has been designated as the newest of Nebraska's noxious weeds, effective Monday, April 1.
“This weed poses a threat to our native ranges and pastureland as well as other natural areas,” said Greg Ibach, Nebraska Department of Agriculture director. “It can reduce or even eliminate native grasses, and it affects the quality and quantity of pasture available to our livestock herds.”
Sericea lespedeza is a perennial that grows well in grasslands and pastures as well as along roadsides and drainage areas. The weed currently is found mainly in southeast Nebraska and can be spread by wildlife and livestock. Infested areas that are utilized for hay production accelerate the spread of the weed into new areas.
The plant grows from 2 to 7 feet tall and can be identified by its alternate leaves that are pinnately trifoliate. Lower leaf surfaces tend to have short hairs. Stems are straight, slender, and grooved and can have short hairs. Flowers (Figure 2), which bloom in late summer, range in color from white to cream to light yellow.
First identified in Nebraska in Richardson County in 1974, it has now spread to 3,000 acres in Nebraska, said Mitch Coffin, NDA Noxious Weed Program manager. In Kansas 500,000 acres are affected, he said.
In addition to sericea lespedeza, Nebraska has 11 noxious weeds: Canada thistle, leafy spurge, musk thistle, plumeless thistle, purple loosestrife, spotted knapweed, diffuse knapweed, saltcedar, phragmites, Japanese knotweed, and giant knotweed.
If you have questions about controlling sericea lespedeza or any of Nebraska's noxious weeds, contact a county weed control superintendent or the NDA Noxious Weed Program Manager at (402) 471-6844.