Dalea villosa (Silky Prairie Clover)
|Also known as:||Downy Prairie Clover|
|Habitat:||sun; dry; sandy soil, prairies|
|Bloom season:||July - August|
|Plant height:||12 to 18 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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A tightly packed cylindrical spike, 1 to 5 inches long, of tiny flowers with long pale yellow-tipped stamens, blooming from the bottom of the spike up. Flower color ranges from lavender to pink, and is sometimes white. The calyx behind the flower is light gray and woolly, most easily seen in the upper spike where flowers have not yet bloomed. A plant has a few to several spikes, which may be straight and erect but more often curved or bent.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are about 1 inch long and compound with up to 21 narrow leaflets, each about ¼ inch long. Leaflets are covered in fine tan hairs, giving the leaves a grayish hue. Stems are also densely covered in fine hairs, often pinkish, may be multiple from the base and branching in the upper plant.
Silky Prairie Clover is similar to Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens); both grow in clumps in the same type of habitat, have long spikes with protruding stamens and hairy compound leaves. Lead Plant is generally a larger plant, however, with larger leaves, its flowers are more blue-violet in color, and the stem is woody and hairless. It also blooms earlier. Silky Prairie Clover comes in when Lead Plant goes out.
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- Silky Prairie Clover plant
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- white Silky Prairie Clover flowers
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?