Lespedeza violacea is a perennial herb, 30-80 cm tall, erect, much branched, branches long, more-or-less hairless, sparsely leafy, stipules linear to 0.6 cm long.
Leaves alternate, stalks long, blade 3-parted, leaflets elliptic, 1-5 cm long, to 2.2 cm wide, appressed-hairy below.
Flowers of two kinds: those with purple petals, 0.6-1 cm long, keel longer than wings or banner, pea-flower-shaped, calyx 0.3-0.6 cm long, hairy; inflorescence, of loose, few-flowered racemes longer than leaves, and closed, self pollinating flowers (cleistogamous) without petals, in stalkless, axillary clusters; blooms July- Sept.
Fruit dry 0.5-0.7 cm long, 1-seeded, flattened; fruits Oct.-Nov. (Radford et al. 1968).
Wetland status: UPL.
Frequency in NYC: Rare, may be extinct in NYC (NYS S3, R).
Habitat: Dry woods, edges.
Notes: Seeds eaten by quail, plants eaten by deer.