DALEA purpurea (Prairie Clover, Purple) is a perennial flowering plant that belongs to the Fabaceae family. Native to North America, this plant is known for its striking purple flowers and its importance in prairie ecosystems.
The Prairie Clover plant typically grows to a height of about 1 to 3 feet (30 to 90 centimeters) and has a bushy and upright habit. It features a cluster of dense, elongated flower spikes that rise above the foliage. The flowers are small and arranged closely together along the spike, creating a visually impactful display.
The most notable feature of Dalea purpurea is its vibrant purple flowers. Each individual flower has a tubular shape with five petals that open outward, resembling a clover. The petals are a rich purple color, although occasionally they may appear pinkish. The flowers are also frequented by various pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, due to their nectar-rich blooms. The flowers at the bottom of the spike bloom first, forming a wreath that climbs the spike as blooming progresses.
The foliage of Prairie Clover consists of small, alternate leaves that are composed of several pairs of leaflets. The leaves are typically green-gray in color and have a feathery appearance. The foliage provides an attractive backdrop to the colorful flowers and adds texture and interest to the plant's overall appearance.
Dalea purpurea is well-adapted to prairie environments and is often found in dry or sandy soils. It thrives in full sun and is tolerant of drought conditions once established. This plant plays a crucial role in prairie ecosystems as it is a host plant for various butterfly larvae and provides nectar for pollinators.
In terms of care, Prairie Clover is generally low-maintenance. Regular watering is necessary during the establishment period, but once the plant is well-established, it can tolerate dry conditions. Deadheading spent flowers can help promote continuous blooming and prevent self-seeding. Pruning or cutting back the plant in late fall or early spring can also help maintain its compact shape.
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Scientific Name: DALEA PURPUREA
Common Name: PURPLE, Prairie Clover
Plant Type: Perennials
Native Range: US, Mexico
Full Growth Height: 12-36"
Width in Across: 30-60"
Exposure: Full Sun
Blooming Season: Summer
Pollinators: Butterflies, Bees, Sun
Flower Color: Purple
Tolerate: Drought, Deer
Water Requirement: Low, Average
Soil Type: Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Uses: Prairies, Gardens, Walkways