Purple Prairie Clover, Dalea purpurea

Purple Prairie Clover

Dalea purpurea

Benefits:
Sun Shade:
Bloom Time: Summer
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil Conditions: Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Purple
Fragrance: No
Height: 1 - 2 feet
Spacing: 1 foot


Description

Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea) is a member of the legume family has it all: gorgeous purple flowers with golden flecks, and elegant foliage on multiple upright stems all combine to give it great garden form. It occurs in glades, rocky open woods and prairies and typically grows 1-3 feet tall. Features tiny purple flowers in dense, cone-like heads atop erect, wiry stems in summer. Compound, odd-pinnate leaves, with 3-5 narrow linear leaflets. The root system consists of a stout taproot that runs deep into the ground. The seeds travel only a short distance from the mother plant when the cylindrical spikes are shaken by the wind.

Habitats include mesic to dry black soil prairies, gravel prairies, sand prairies, hill prairies, typical savannas and sandy savannas, limestone glades, and sandy hills or dunes near Lake Michigan. Recovery from occasional wildfires is good.

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Thick and deep taproot enables this plant to tolerate drought well. May self-seed in optimum growing conditions.

Plant Notes and Herbal Uses
  It is a standard component in prairie restorations.
  Legumes harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia which are able to capture nitrogen from the air and add to the soil.
  Purple Prairie Clover is slow to develop, but is fairly easy to manage if the site is well-drained and there is plenty of sun.
Further Information

Wild Ones of the Fox Valley Area
Prairie Nursery
Wisconsin DNR
Wisconsin Native Plant Nurseries