Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||sun; dry fields, prairies, rocky areas|
|Bloom season:||June - August|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A thimble-shaped flower head ½ to 2½ inches long at the top of the stem, the flowers blooming from the bottom of the spike up. Tiny 5-petaled purple flowers with orange or yellow-tipped stamens are densely packed around the cone. The calyx holding the flower is woolly, dull gray to rusty red, and easily visible in the upper spike where flowers have not yet bloomed.
Leaves and stems:
Small compound leaves 1½ to 3 inches long, with 3 to 7 linear leaflets each up to 1 inch long and less than 1/8 inch wide. The leaves may be densely packed on the lower part of the stem and more sparse on the upper part. Attachment is alternate. Stems are multiple from the base, unbranched, hairless and slightly ridged.
Purple Prairie Clover typically grows in clumps. When not flowering it looks similar to White Prairie Clover (Dalea candida), which is less clump-forming and has broader leaflets. It is a great plant for pollinators and does well in a sunny home garden in average to dry soil.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?