Dalea leporina (Foxtail Prairie Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as: Foxtail Dalea
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:sun; disturbed soils; roadsides, waste areas, fields, open woods, sandy banks
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Erect, cylindric spike 1 to 2 inches long, single at the tips of branching stems, densely packed with tiny pea-shaped flowers. Flowers are 1/6 to ¼ inch long, white to pale pinkish or purple, the upper petal largest and erect to ascending, the lower and lateral petals about half as long as the upper. A column of 9 or 10 stamens with yellow to red tips protrudes from the center. The calyx holding the flower has 5 awl-shaped lobes, 10 ribs, and is covered in long white hairs. Flowers bloom from the bottom of the spike up, sometimes with just a small ring of flowers open at a time.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, up to 4 inches long, compound with 15 to 41 leaflets. Leaflets are ¼ to ½ inch long, oblong-elliptic or widest above the middle, toothless, hairless, mostly stalkless, sometimes red-tinged. The lower surface is much paler than the upper and gland dotted, the dots often showing through to the upper surface.

[photo of gland-dotted stems] Stems are multiple from the base, erect to spreading, usually much branched, hairless, and smooth except for scattered glands in the upper plant.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a 1-seeded pod about as long as the calyx.


While not considered a rare species in Minnesota, Foxtail Prairie Clover is certainly uncommon. There have been only 3 records of it since 1900, the most recent in 1961 in Lac Qui Parle County. It is considered an adventive species and a bit weedy in the eastern US. It is easily distinguished from other Prairie Clovers by the larger flowers, densely hairy calyx, and gland-dotted compound leaves with numerous leaflets.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at the public boat launch in Bismarck, North Dakota.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Davis - Lac qui Parle County, Perry Township
on: 2019-08-21 09:01:50

I observed a small population on 14-Aug-2019 while doing vegetation surveys for a future prairie restoration funded by Pheasants Forever. Plants were just beginning to flower. The observation was added to iNaturalist.

Posted by: Craig Reller - Cottage Grove
on: 2022-06-30 20:44:06

Remnant population by railroad near 3M.

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