Kummerowia striata - (Thunburg) Schindler
Fabaceae (Bean) Family
Photo courtesy Mike Carter, Pensacola, Fl., 9/12/2018
Kummerowia striata is a species of flowering plant in the legume family known by the common name Japanese Clover; native to much of Asia, it was originally identified as Korean Lespedeza, K. stiputacea. Today, it is present in the eastern United States as an introduced species. This annual herb grows prostrate, spreading, or erect, and may stand to 40 centimeters tall.
The dwarf leaf segments are made up of three oval leaflets, which are less than 1cm in length; compound, placed alternate on the stem at the leaf node; leaf margins are entire (has no teeth or lobes).
Flowers occur in the leaf axils. There are cleistogamous flowers, which self-fertilize and never fully open, and chasmogamous flowers, which open and receive pollen from other plants. The flowers are symmetrical in form and bisexual in nature; less than 1/2 cm in size. There are a total of 5 petals, sepals or tepals that make up the flower. Fusion of the sepals and petals form a cup or tube. Flower color is pink, white, or yellow. Flowering occurs in the summer.
The fruit is a small 1-seed legume pod that does not split open at maturity.
History: At the close of the American Civil War, the plant appeared throughout the southern United States - having been introduced to North America accidentally, possibly as a seed contaminant, but it was later imported and planted intentionally. It was used to revegetate pastures and provide forage for livestock. Along with other clovers, it was used to revegetate abandoned coal mine sites. It was also used to prevent erosion.