Strophostyles leiosperma (Torr. & A. Gray) Piper

Slickseed Wild Bean

Strophostyles leiosperma plant

Family - Fabaceae

Stem - To 1 m, twining, sometimes rooting at nodes, densely pubescent with downward angled hairs.

Strophostyles_leiosperma_stemStem and peduncle.

Leaves - Alternate, long-petiolate, pinnately trifoliate. Stipules minute. Leaflets rounded or angled at the base, bluntly pointed at tip, lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate, unlobed, the surfaces moderately to densely appressed-hairy.


Strophostyles_leiosperma_leafLeaf (abaxial).

Inflorescence - Solitary flowers or compact axillary racemes of 2-5 flowers. Bractlets subtending calyx shorter than calyx tube.


Flowers - Calyces with the tube bell-shaped, 1-2 mm long, densely hairy. Corollas papilionaceous, light pink fading to grayish white, the banner broadly ovate to nearly circular, the wings oblong, shorter than the keel, the keel widest at the midpoint, abruptly constricted above the midpoint into a blunt, upward-arched beaklike tip that is slightly twisted to the side. Stamens 10, 9 of the filaments fused to above the midpoint and 1 filament free.


Strophostyles_leiosperma_flower2Flower and fruit.

Fruits - 1.5-3.5 cm long, 2-4 mm wide, moderately to densely hairy at maturity, 3-8 seeded. Seeds 2-4 mm long, the surface smooth, olive brown, often mottled with darker brown or black, glabrous.


Flowering - June - October.

Habitat - Forest openings, prairies, glades, savannas, streambanks, fields. Often on acidic substrate.

Origin - Native to the U.S.

Other info. - This is one of three species of Strophostyles found in Missouri. It is characterized by narrow, unlobed leaflets, relatively small flowers, and glabrous seeds. The specific epithet leiosperma, in fact, means "smooth seed." Under favorable conditions the plants can form large mats. Its range in Missouri is largely restricted to the southern half of the state.

Photographs taken at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 8-3-2007; also near Benton, MO, 8-29-2011; and at Don Robinson State Park, Jefferson County, MO, 9-1-2018 (SRTurner).