The United States Department of Agriculture has quite recently
introduced a variety of clover known botanically as Lespedeza bicolor.
In 1902 small lots of seed were distributed to ascertain the value of
the plant grown under American conditions. Sufficient time has not yet
to prove its value, but the indications encourage the belief
that it will be of some agricultural value under certain conditions.
This variety of clover is more erect and less branched in its habit of
growth than the Japanese variety Lespedeza striata. Under Michigan
conditions it was found to grow to the height of 3 feet on sandy soil
and to about half that height on clay soil, the seed having been sown
about the middle of May. The stalks are about the same in structure as
those of alfalfa, and like alfalfa they do not lodge readily. The leaves
are ovate in form and of a pea-green tint. The seed is formed in pods
resembling those of lentils, only smaller. The seeds are larger than
those of crimson clover and are oblong in shape. In color they are
mottled brown, yellow and green. The roots in the Michigan test produced
nodules freely and without inoculating the soil by any artificial means.
The plants in the same tests were killed to the ground by early October
This variety, like that grown so freely in the Southern States, is an
annual. In the absence of experience in growing it under varied
conditions, it would be premature to dwell upon its value. If it should
grow readily on sandy land, as the Michigan test would seem to indicate,
it would render substantial service in fertilizing such soils. In the
grass garden of the Department of Agriculture at Washington, D. C., its
behavior has been such as to encourage making further tests.
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