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Colorado Native Plant Feature - Leadplant

Common name: Leadplant

Botanical name: Amorpha canescens

Mature height: varied to 3’

Mature width: 3-4’

Plant type: Herbaceous shrub

Availability: Readily available at most nurseries

Bloom season: Summer

Hardiness zones: 2-9

Soil type: Adaptable, ranges from sandy to clay

Native range: Midwestern US, from Mexico into parts of Canada

Wildlife value: Moderate to high. Provides some value for pollinators and butterflies, as well as providing nitrogen in the soil for microorganisms and surrounding plants. Host plant for several species of native butterflies and moths.

Landscape value: As a member of the legume family, it adds nitrogen to the soil. A great native alternative to the commonly used Russian Sage and Butterfly Bush (Buddleia), as it hold similar characteristics in light and water requirements, growth, and color. High adaptability leads to reduced mortality rates in the landscape.

Bloom color: Blue to deep purple with orange stamens

Water usage: Very low

Sun exposure: Full to partial sun

Description: Leadplant is a member of the pea family and has a wide native distribution. The grayish-green compound leaves offer a great contrast in texture and color when grouped with other plants. Exceptionally long lived and drought tolerant, this plant has a long bloom period and is adaptable to a variety of soils and moistures, but prefers dry soil. Its cousin, Amorpha fruticosa (False Indigo), is a much larger and moderately invasive plant that requires much more water. Leadplant works well both as a specimen plant and in massings. It looks great grouped with other natives, such as Dwarf Blue Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus var. nauseosus), Butterfly Plant (Asclepias tuberosa), Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata), and Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) and Prairie Dropseed (Sporobolis heterolepsis) grasses. Also works well with very low water regionally adaptable plants such as Agastache and Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima). The versatility and growth characteristics of Leadplant make it an integral component of any native landscape.

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