(Amorpha canescens)

Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Leadplant is an erect, perennial forb that rises on multiple stems from a rhizome or a woody crown. It can be 8 to 51 tall, but is usually no more than 40 in height. The striking feature of this plant is the fine white hairs on the young stems, leaves, and calyces that give the overall appearance of a plant dusted with white lead powder.

The stems are ascending to erect and usually branched. Current year stems are gray or white near the top due to a dense covering of short, fine, white hairs, and light green and sparsely hairy or almost hairless near the base. Year-old stems are hairless or nearly hairless and become woody near the base. The bark on the woody portion is gray to brownish and somewhat rough.

The leaves are alternate, deciduous, 1½ to 4 long, ½ to 1½ wide, and are pinnately divided into 19 to 49 leaflets. The central axis of the leaf (rachis) is white due to a dense covering of short, fine, white hairs. At the base of each leaf is a pair of leaf-like appendages (stipules). The stipules are linear, purplish, and up to long. They drop off as the leaf develops.

The leaflets are arranged in alternate pairs near the base of the leaf, opposite pairs near the tip, with a single leaflet at the end of the rachis. They are egg-shaped to oblong or elliptical, to long, and to ¼ wide. They are rounded at the base and rounded at the tip, with a short, sharp, abrupt point at the tip. They have a single, prominent midvein. The upper surface is grayish-green and is densely to moderately covered with short, fine, white hairs. The lower surface is paler grayish-green and is densely covered with short, fine, white hairs. The margins are untoothed. The terminal leaflet is smaller than the lateral leaflets, tapered at the base, and squared off at the tip.

The inflorescence is a cluster of 5 to 20 spike-like, unbranched, elongated clusters (racemes) at the end of the stem and branches. Individual racemes also sometimes rise from the uppermost leaf axils. The racemes are 1½ to 6¾ long, and to wide, and are on leafless stalks (peduncles) up to 10 long. The peduncles and the central axes of the racemes are densely covered with short, fine, white hairs.

The flowers are about ¼ long. There are 5 sepals united for half their length into a 1 16 long tube (calyx) then separated into 5 lance-shaped lobes, each about 1 16 long. The calyx is densely covered with short, fine, white hairs. The corolla is a single blue to purple petal. The petal is tubular near the base, unfolded near the tip to form a protective covering over the stamens and pistil. There are 10 stamens of varied length with purple filaments and yellow to orange anthers protruding well beyond the corolla.

The fruit is a brown, densely hairy, to 3 16 long pod with a single seed. The pod matures late August to early October.




8 to 40


Flower Color


Blue to purple


Similar Species


Dwarf false indigo (Amorpha nana) is usually a shorter plant. The stems, leaves, and calyces are hairless or sparsely hairy. The leaves are bright green, not grayish-green. The inflorescence is a solitary raceme at the end of the stem, and branches, not a cluster of 5 to 20 racemes.


Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, open woods.




Late June to early August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Common and abundant

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  


Fabaceae (legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae  
  Tribe Amorpheae  


Amorpha (false indigos)  

Subordinate Taxa



  Amorpha brachycarpa  

Common Names


lead plant



leadplant amorpha










The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



A collective name for all of the petals of a flower.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



The stalk of a single flower or flower cluster.



On a compound leaf, having the leaflets arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk. On a bryophyte, having branches evenly arranged on opposite sides of a stem.



An unbranched, elongated inflorescence with stalked flowers. The flowers mature from the bottom up.



The main axis of a compound leaf, appearing as an extension of the leaf stalk; the main axis of an inflorescence.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

Visitor Photos

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Laura Baxley


Amorpha canescens

    leadplant   leadplant  

Kirk Nelson


Pilot Knob

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


    leadplant   leadplant  


    leadplant   leadplant  
    leadplant   leadplant  


    leadplant   leadplant  

Early Spring

    leadplant   leadplant  



  Amorpha canescens LEADPLANT
Frank Mayfield
  Amorpha canescens LEADPLANT  
  Lead Plant

Uploaded on Jul 19, 2008

Lead Plant




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Other Videos
  Weed of the Week #722-Leadplant (Air Date 2/5/12)
AgPhD's channel

Uploaded on Feb 8, 2012

It's our Weed of the Week, Leadplant.

  Wild Foods: Leadplant
Bravo Survival

Published on Jun 24, 2014

Second installment in the Wild Foods series. We discuss the Leadplant as a use in making a delicious tea.




Visitor Sightings

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  Laura Baxley

Location: Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Amorpha canescens

  Kirk Nelson

Location: Pilot Knob

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