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Plant Profile: Lespedeza cuneata

How many of you associate “non-native” or “invasive” plants species as a negative term? While often times that is the case, there are actually some non-native species that have proven to be beneficial in areas they were introduced. One very common non-native species that has spread across the southeast is Lespedeza cuneata, or Sericea. Sericea is originally native to eastern and central Asia, but was introduced in the United States as an erosion control plant species. It is an upright growing plant that thrives in recently disturbed soils. Lespedeza can be found in a multitude of habitat types ranging from wetlands to deciduous forests to prairie lands. It is incredibly resilient, as it thrives in areas that are frequently disturbed by events such as logging and prescribed fire.

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Lespedeza cuneata at Great Southern Outdoors

 

Not only is Sericea beneficial in erosion control, it also benefits several wildlife and livestock species. Auburn University recently published detailed findings regarding Lespedeza cuneata and the results were impressive. Many animals take advantage of the abundance of Sericea in the southeast; deer, turkey, quail, songbirds, and even livestock will consume the leaves, flowers, and seeds of this plant. The study conducted by Auburn University showed that Lespedeza was a sufficient source of nutrition in cattle, even more so than Bermuda hay. Not only is the plant moderately low in tannins, it is high in protein and can withstand heavy grazing, which makes it a desirable forage for deer and cattle. In addition to its nutritional benefits, this plant has actually been shown to prevent gastrointestinal worms in ruminant mammals. Its tendency to grow in thick clusters also makes it a sufficient source of cover for smaller animals. Bobwhite quail, turkey poults, rabbits, and other small mammals take advantage of this edge habitat species to take cover from predators.

So, while many non-native species have proven to be undesirable in the lands we manage, not all of them are. Take the time to do your research, observe the plants on your land, and figure out what works best for you. You just might find it beneficial to introduce some new plants to your property. But once again, do your research!! Introducing the wrong species to a new land can be completely devastating to your property if not done the correct way. I encourage everyone to really get to know the different plant species on your property and the ways they can be used to benefit your wildlife.

https://plants.usda.gov/java/ is a great website from the US Department of Agriculture that has a detailed profile on plants found in the United States. You can learn about the history, habitat, management tips, and wildlife uses of any plants you may encounter on your property.

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Great Southern Outdoors Wildlife Plantation

Some good information on EHD and what to look for on your property.

The Quality Deer Management Association
It's that time of year when reports of EHD typically start rolling in. Fortunately, it has been pretty quiet on that front so far this summer, but all of us should be vigilant in keeping an eye out for deer hit by the virus. This video explains how to look for an outbreak where you hunt and what to do if you find sick or dead deer.
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