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Purple Prairie-clover Dalea purpurea

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • D. purpurea var. purpurea
  • Petalostemum purpureum
Description

Purple prairie clover is a perennial wildflower native to the central US and Canada and grows 1-3 feet tall. Despite its name, it is not a true clover, but a legume with a long taproot and is a protein source for grazing herbivores, as well as a nectar source for many pollinators.  It is native to the prairies of the midwest and has been used for land reclamation after strip mining and for preventing erosion and adding nitrogen to the soil. It is adapted to areas with periodic wildfires as this removes larger competing plants.

The individual flowers are tiny and born on a cone-shaped flower spike early to mid-summer. The leaves a small and narrow and the fruit is a legume. It is adaptable to various soil types except for wet ones and needs full to partial sun for best growth. Use this plant in a naturalized and drought-tolerant setting

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#perennial#wildlife plant#purple flowers#legume#specialized bees#adaptable#herbaceous perennial#rock gardens#wildflower garden#naturalized area#prairies#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-summer#bee friendly#meadows
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#perennial#wildlife plant#purple flowers#legume#specialized bees#adaptable#herbaceous perennial#rock gardens#wildflower garden#naturalized area#prairies#butterfly friendly#nectar plant mid-summer#bee friendly#meadows
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Dalea
    Species:
    purpurea
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The stems were used as brooms by the Pawnee people.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central USA
    Distribution:
    Eastern British Columbia south to Alabama and Arizona, widespread in areas with prairies and/or dry hills
    Wildlife Value:
    Source of protein for mammalian herbivores, pollinator nectar source, food plant to larvae of the Dogface Sulphur (Colias cesonia) and Reakirt's Blue (Hemiargus isola) butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    The leaves are used for making tea and medicines, and the roots are palatable when chewed.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-stemmed
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Description:
    Fruit is a legume with 1-2 yellowish-green to brown seeds
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Dense cone-shaped spikes are 1-2 inches long and sport tiny purple flowers in early to mid-summer. Begins opening from the bottom of the spike and ascends upward throughout the season. Individual flowers are ΒΌ" across, with 5 purple petals and 5 protruding goldish-orange anthers.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Compound leaves have 3-5 narrow linear leaflets that are .5 to 1.5 inches long and 1/8 inch wide.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Wiry slightly ridged green stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rock Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Specialized Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Erosion
    Wind