Leadplant is a low perennial shrub, 1 to 3 ft tall. Leadplant has multiple upright stems that become increasingly woody with age. Whitish green, 4-10 cm- long leaves. May have up to 50 leaflets. The leaves are greener in full sunlight and whitish in partially shaded conditions. The small flowers occur along 2-6″ long spikes. A member of Fabaceae, the legume family, the plant produces hairy beanpods. 


Leadplant is pollinated mostly by nectar-feeding solitary (non-colonial) bees, beetles, and honeybees. It is a preferred food source for deer and rabbits and frequently browsed by livestock.  


Leadplant is common in prairies, hillsides, roadsides, and open woodlands. Prefers sandy to silt-textured soil and tolerant to weakly saline soils. Often associated with little bluestem, big bluestem, and Indian grass. Tolerant of fire and grazing. Its roots support nitrogen fixing bacteria, making Leadplant an important source of nitrogen in prairie communities.  

In the Arb:

Leadplant can be found in the Arb’s restored prairies, and in forest edges.