Monday, August 24, 2009

100 Species Challenge

1. Strawberry
2. Black-eyed Susan
3. Rose of Sharon, Althea
4. Potentilla
5. Vinca
6. Grape Hyacinth
7. Tiger Lily

8. Lespedeza

When we moved here we inherited a fairly weedy lawn. The slope is really funky and the soil is crappy, so it's in sort of a permanent drought. Plus the previous owners didn't care, which typically translates to "don't mow very often, and then scalp it down", which is a technique that favors weeds over grass.

Anyway, there's a bunch of some plant that I hadn't seen before. It looks sort of like clover

and in some areas it's totally taken over.

So the other day some guy came to our door selling lawn chemical applications. I'm not big on lawn chemical applications -- I figure if it's all sort of green and approximately the same height, we're good (except I hate zoysia grass, but that's another story). So I don't place a high priority on killing various short green things and then fertilizing other short green things.

BUT, he commented that he could get rid of the lespedeza (well, except he pronounced it differently -- more like les -pi--dee-jah). Ooooooh, how cool. I used the word in sentences while I was talking to him, fixing it in my brain. And then when we were finished talking I ran inside to google it.

(As an aside, he also assured me he could get rid of crabgrass, clover, and violets. We have virtually no crabgrass, and I happen to like the violets. I'm neutral on clover, aware that it was considered part of a healthy lawn until about the 1960s and the dawn of lawn chemicals. On the other hand, I've gotten my share of bee stings from walking barefoot through lawns with clover patches, so I don't consider it quite so necessary.)

And discovered varying opinions on the plant. I found a place to buy seeds so you can use it for erosion control and for "food and shelter for wildlife" such as deer and quail. Obviously it's growing taller than it does in our yard if it's shelter wildlife. And we seem to have no trouble attracting deer, although they prefer daylilies and hostas over lespedeza, in case you wondered.

And yet, in Kansas it has been declared a noxious weed. And I found a comment that Missouri may declare it a noxious weed also. It seems to be a case of an okay plant running amok and killing off the competition.

Other bits and pieces of lespedeza trivia: Goats and sheep will eat it more readily than will cows. It has a high tannin content, particularly late in the season. I imagine this makes it bitter. And there's been research on using it to help with internal parasites in ruminant animals. I haven't found any human uses for it yet -- I always like finding out which plants we can forage, assuming we don't spray them with chemicals.

I couldn't find any organic controls, other than using herds of goats and also burning it off. I don't think either method would be popular with the neighbors. Not that the neighbors object to chemical applications -- I need to go take pictures of what happened to our lawn when one neighbor decided to "help" with the "violet problem" we supposedly have.

More about the 100 Species Challenge here, and a link to all of my 100 Species entries is in the sidebar.


Staci at Writing and Living said...

In case you haven't figured it out, you're in the wrong city if you hate zoysia. :)

Gail said...

I also have the wrong neighbor, whose zoysia is creeping into our lawn. The fact that she has also decided part of our lawn belongs to her and mows it doesn't really help, although I guess you could see that as helpful if you squint.

This is the neighbor who killed part of our lawn with chemicals. She is ... interesting.