Sericea lespedeza (Lespedeza cuneata) has historically been called “poor man’s alfalfa”, because of its ability to grow on marginal soil with the minimal inputs of lime or fertilizer. With recent research detailing the potential health benefits of this forage to animals, it may be time for a new nickname.
In 2017, ACSRPC members Thomas Terrill (Fort Valley State University) and Jorge Mosjidis (Auburn University, retired) published a review article about sericea lespedeza (SL) in the Journal of Agriculture Science & Technology. The article includes sections on the history of SL; the agronomic, environmental, and health benefits of SL; the anti-parasitic properties of SL; feeding recommendations for parasite control using SL; and the future of SL.
Because of its high anti-parasitic bioactivity, including sericea lespedeza in the diet of ruminant animals, whether fed fresh (grazed) or in dried (hay, meal, pellets) or ensiled forms, has potential to improve sustainability of animal production systems world-wide. With its agronomic, health and environmental benefits, it may be time to change the nickname of this forage from “poor man’s alfalfa” to “smart man’s alfalfa”.
Read Journal Article
Editor's note: Despite its beneficial properties, sericea lespedeza is classified as a noxious weed in some states, e.g. Kansas and Colorado. It is considered invasive or weedy in 31 states.