Dalea purpurea Vent.

Purple Prairie Clover


CC = 8
CW = 5
MOC = 73

© DETenaglia

Family - Fabaceae/Faboideae

Stems - To -1m tall, simple or branching above, Multiple from base, erect to ascending, glabrous to densely villous, herbaceous.


© DETenaglia

Leaves - Alternate, odd-pinnate, stipulate, to -5cm long. Stipules linear, 5mm long. Leaflets typically 3-5, linear to linear-oblong, involute, opposite, -2cm long, 2mm broad, entire, sparse villous, glandular punctate below, subsessile or on very short petiolule to .7mm long. Petiole punctate glandular, villous, with adaxial groove.


© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Dense, indeterminate, cylindrical spikes to 7cm tall, 1.2cm in diameter, terminating stems.
Each flower subtended by an apiculate bract to 5mm long, +/-2mm broad. Bracts cupped and pubescent below tip.


© DETenaglia

Flowers - Petals purplish-pink, clawed, connected to staminal column (column to 3mm long, white, glabrous), 4-6mm long, 1mm broad. Claws to -4mm long. Stamens 5, monodelphous. Filaments 5-6mm long, purplish. Anthers .9mm long, orange. Style 8-9mm long, white to pinkish, mostly glabrous but bearded below, filiform. Ovary 1.4mm long, pubescent at apex. Calyx tube to 3mm long, white, dense pubescent, 5-lobed. Lobes green acute, 1.2mm long, equal, dense pubescent.

Dalea_purpurea_flowers.jpg Young flowers with stamens not yet expanded.

© DETenaglia

Flowering - June - September.

Habitat - Prairies, glades, open woods, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - At first glance the flowers and spikes of this plant appear somewhat uncharacteristic of most plants in the bean family. Closer examination reveals the papilionaceous floral structure.
This plant is common yet striking to look at. The foliage and stems can be glabrous or very pubescent and some authors split the species up into different varieties based on this and other characteristics. It is most often found in habitats which are not extensively disturbed. The plants are frequented by flying insects such as butterflies.

Missouri's plants are assignable to var. purpurea. A synonym for the plant is Petalostemon purpureum (Vent.) Rydb.

Photographs taken at Alley Spring, MO., 6-13-03.