Japanese Clover

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

elapsed 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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