It is native to eastern North America, where it is found on cliffs, balds, or ledges, forests, ridges or ledges, talus and rocky slopes, woodlands.
Recent taxonomic work has changed the entity to which the name Lespedeza violacea applies. Based upon a reexamination of the type specimens, it was determined that Lespedeza violacea is the correct name of what was traditionally known as Lespedeza intermedia. The entity traditionally known as Lespedeza violacea now has the name Lespedeza frutescens. This nomenclature rearrangement has resulted in widespread confusion among botanists, with older references and some modern botanists retaining the traditional usage. Literature referencing L. violacea must be carefully checked to determine what concept of the species the author is using.