Purple Prairie Clover

  • Scientific Name: Dalea purpurea
  • Native to North America
  • Legume
  • Works in all soil types
  • Excellent pollinator

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Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea) is a member of the legume family which is native to North America and is perennial and herbaceous. The plant has an erect type growth habit that typically grows from 12 to 24 inches tall.  The first flowers to bloom are located at the base of the spike with the circle of flowers moving upward along the spike as new buds bloom and old flowers fade. The flower petals, which are rose-purple with projecting gold-orange anthers, are small and simple compared to other typical legume flowers.  The plant is deep rooted with a 6 foot tap root that has 3 to 7 lateral roots located within a foot of the soils surface.

Purple prairie clover is used for native prairie restoration and re-vegetation of natural areas. It produces excellent forage quality for livestock, but its overall production is not very high. It can cause bloat in cattle, but is high in protein which increases its forage quality.

This plant is not picky when it comes to the soil characteristics, as long as the site is well-drained. Typical habitats include black soils prairies, sand prairies, savannas, and limestone glades. Purple Prairie Clover has a deep taproot that ensures it will last in any native planting. Previously called Petalostemum purpureum. It can be planted in the spring, on bare soil, and will germinate without overwintering.

Purple prairie clover has a thimble-shaped flower arrangement which blooms from the bottom to the top. These purple flowers do not have a noticeable floral scent, but the flowers attract a number of pollinators. Even after the flowers are done blooming, it remains very attractive due to its ornamental foliage.
Common name: Kaneb Purple Prairie Clover

(Dalea purpurea)

Purple Prairie Clover NRCS Plant Guide and Fact Sheet

PDF version of NRCS Plant Guide & Fact Sheet

Citation: USDA-Natural Resources Conservation
Service, Manhattan PMC. Manhattan, KS 66502.
Published [March 2013]

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