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Purple Prairie Clover

Purple Prairie Clover
Dalea purpurea
(Family: Fabaceae)

(see Photo 1)
Dalea Purpurea In the Field. Photo by Hallie Craycraft, 2011

Stems: Erect, ascending, many leaflets along entire length of stem.
Leaf: Altermate, odd pinnately compound, leaflets 3-7, linear to linear-elliptic, 0.8-2.5 cm (1/3-1’’) long, acute tips, slightly pubescent, margins entire.
Root: Tough system produces above ground shoots at intervals.
Inflorescence: Dense, cylindrical, cone-like, 0.5-2.5’’ long, terminal stalks, flowers bloom from bottom to top of inflorescence.

(see Photo 2)
Dalea purpurea Inflorescence. Photo by Hallie Craycraft.

Floret: Small, 5 purple or pinkish petals, 5 stamens with orange anthers, 1 pistil.

(see  Photo 3)
Dalea purpurea Floret. Photo by Hallie Craycraft.

Flowering Period: June-July

Habitat: Dry black soil, gravel, and sand prairies. Prefers a sunny habitat.

Conservation Status: Not threatened

Native Status: Native to eastern and central United States.

Distribution: Distributed throughout most of Kansas.

Kansas County Distributional Map for Dalea purpurea
Kansas Distribution Map. Map from Plants Database.

Distributed throughout central United States and south central Canada.

United States Distribution Map. Map from Plants Database.

Human Uses: The taproot can be used to make a tea that will help cure fever in people with measles.


Historical Information: Lewis and Clark collected specimens from Montana to bring back to President Jefferson in 1804 and 1806. These specimens of Dalea purpurea are now on display in the Lewis & Clark Herbarium in Philadelphia.

Visitors: Long and short tongued-bees, wasps, flies, and small butterflies, skippers, and beetles.

Friends of the Flower Garden. 2008. Dalea Prupurea.

Great Plains Flora Association 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas. Lawrence, Kansas. Pg. 1046.


Image Credits:

Dalea purpurea in the field, inflorescence, and floret. Photos by Hallie Craycraft.

Kansas Distribution map and United States Distribution map.


Submitted by: Hallie Craycraft, July 2011

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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