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Amorpha canescens

Leadplant /

Photo courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

Amorpha canescens is a small shrubby plant that is graced with long spikes of clear purple flowers from July to September. Its long bloom time and attractiveness to butterflies make Leadplant a great native substitute for Butterfly Bush (Buddleia).


  • Easy to grow
  • Likes barren soils
  • Drought tolerant

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Plant Amorpha canescens in full sun and average to dry soil. Water regularly until established. Leadplant is very drought tolerant with the help of a deep tap root that can reach many feet down for water. Because of this root it is difficult to transplant successfully.

30-36 Inches


24-30 Inches

USDA Hardiness Zone 2-9

Native Range

Amorpha canescens is found in open prairies and meadows in the middle of North America, from the Rockies to the Mississippi. USDA Distribution Map

Native Trivia

Mammalian herbivores, such as deer, rabbits, and livestock, are very fond of this plant. It is high in protein and quite palatable. This can make Leadplant difficult to establish in areas where these animals are abundant. Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois The common name Leadplant comes from the mistaken belief that Amorpha canescens indicated the presence of lead in the surrounding soil.

"Butterflies feast on the nectar of this lovely plant and caterpillars feed on the leaves."

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Medium Perennials
  • Medium to Tall Perennials
  • Acidic
  • Heavy clay
  • Humus-rich
  • Saline or alkaline
  • Well-drained
  • Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Average
  • Dry
Attracts Wildlife
  • Beneficial insects
  • Butterflies
  • Mammals
Bloom Time
  • Summer
Habitat Collection
  • Butterfly
Native Habitat
  • Grassland
Foliage Color
  • Blue-green
  • Border
  • Cut or dried flower
  • Drought tolerant
  • Erosion control
  • Mass plant
  • Meadow
  • Naturalizes
  • Wind tolerant
Native to
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming