Purple Prairie Clover - Dalea purpurea

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Purple Prairie Clover is a native perennial that grows to 1-3 feet high. It has one or more thin stems growing from a common base. The leaves are compound and small with narrow leaflets.

The flowers are tiny and purplish and grow at the ends the spikes on the stems. The flowers at the bottoms of the spikes are the first to bloom. If you look closely you can see their small orange stamens sticking out from the rest of the flower. Very beautiful and delicate looking! It blooms from June to September.

Is sometimes added to the genus 'petalostemon'. A very similar plant, Dalea candida, has white flowers.


Purple Prairie Clover is a Host Plant for three butterflies

Purple Prairie Clover is used as host plant by the Dogface sulfur, Striped Blue, Mexican Blue (Hemiargus isola).

Purple Prairie Clover Pictures

Close up of some flowers - notice the orange stamens. These two haven't been blooming for very long. In the background you can see the full stems of Purple Prairie Clover:



Here you can see some that have been blooming longer, and you can see more of their stems:



You can see the full stems in this picture:




Where to buy Purple Prairie Clover

Native plant nurseries are the only places I know that sell them.



Growing Tips

I believe I initially started mine from seed, although since then I haven't had very good luck in getting more started. The seedlings seem very fragile and can flop over and get covered in dirt from a hard rain pretty easily. They are not very wide plants, so a lot of them can be grown in a small area.



Current status of this plant in my garden (last updated: 3/09)

I love this plant! Not sure why but it has always been appealing to me. I have been trying to get another small patch started, but have not had much luck. I have not seen any caterpillars on it either. I am terrible at identifying sulfurs and blues, so I can't really say if I had many adults flying in my garden.

A couple times I have seen what looks like a Black Swallowtail egg on these plants, I'm guessing sometimes butterflies make mistakes.



The Pea/Fabaceae Family

Lead Plant is member of the Fabaceae Family. This is a large family consisting of 640 genera and 17,000 species. Members of this family include peas, beans, soybeans, lentils, alfalfa and many clover species.



Distribution

From the U. S. Department of Agriculture:


Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons
Subclass Rosidae
Order Fabales
Family Fabaceae Pea family
Genus Dalea L. prairie clover
Species Dalea purpurea Vent. purple prairie clover



Additional Information

More information about Purple Prairie Clover can be found at the USDA site.




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