An erect or prostrate annual with weak roots, forming ground-covering colonies. Flowers near ends of leafy branches, small, typical pea flowers, white and either pink or purple. Blooms July-October. Leaves alternate, on stalks, trifoliate (3 leaflets in cloverleaf configuration), leaflets oblong, wider toward the notched tips, to ½ inch long. Edges of leaves with hairs. Stipules at base of leaf stalks broad, pointed, tan, conspicuous, lacking hairs. Hairs on stems point toward the tip of the plant, not the base.
Similar species: Common lespedeza (K. striata) has leaves that are nearly stalkless, and the hairs on the stems point toward the base of the plant. The margins of the leaves are not notably hairy.