An excellent pioneering plant in permaculture, even in exposed areas it grows rapidly to its maximum height of about 1.5 metres and will give shelter to enable other less tolerant plants to become established.
It is especially useful for helping the establishment of shrubs and herbaceous perennials in small gardens.
Plants are used in land reclamation schemes to stabilize sandy soils and dunes. Because they are fast growing and tolerant of maritime exposure, they quickly provide shelter for other plants as well as enriching the soil with nitrogen.
Hardy to about -15°c. Plants are hardy in all but severe winters in Britain, though they become less hardy with age. A fast-growing but short-lived plant, especially when growing in rich soils. Plants have reached 2.7 metres tall and wide within 4 years from seed in a rich soil, flowering and producing seed prolifically. Plants self-sow when in a suitable position. The flowers bear the fragrance of white clover.
Requires a well-drained dry or moist soil in a sunny position. Prefers an alkaline soil. Grows well near the coast, resisting maritime exposure. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn.
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.