Purple Prairie-cloverDalea purpurea Vent.
Purple Prairie-clover is easily recognized by its cone-like flower heads. Plants add valuable nitrogen back into the soil, and have a deep taproot adapted for drought tolerance. They are high in protein and palatable to mammalian herbivores. Flowers are visited often, and provide nectar for bees and butterflies. Seed dispersal occurs when plants are shaken by the wind, or by small rodents that may carry them to their dens.
Canadian Rarity Status:
Not rare. Listed as “may be at risk” in Ontario.
The upright stems of this perennial grow 30-90 cm tall. They are unbranched, hairless, and in clumps of 2-15. Each alternate leaf is short and divided into 3-7 narrow leaflets. The tiny flowers have five petals and no noticeable scent. These occur in a dense cylindrical spike on the ends of stems, and bloom in a ring upwards from the bottom. Fruits are tiny pods with one seed that do not split open when mature.
Seeds and/or plants are typically available from greenhouses and seed supply companies specializing in native plants. This is a good plant for prairie/meadow and native pollinator gardens, and attracts bees and butterflies. Propagation by seed is recommended.
- Fescue Prairie
- Mixed Grass Prairie
- Tall Grass Prairie
- Limestone Glades
- Open Woodlands
- Full Sun
- Andrenid Bees, Miner/Digger Bees (Andrenidae)
- Bee Flies (Bombyliidae)
- Blister Beetles (Meloidae)
- Bumble, Honey, and other Bees (Apidae (Subfamily Apinae))
- Cheese Skippers (Piophilidae)
- Crabronid Wasps (Crabronidae)
- Cuckoo Bees (Apidae (Subfamily Nomadinae))
- Flesh Flies (Sarcophagidae)
- Flower Flies (Syrphidae)
- Gossamer-winged Butterflies (Lycaenidae)
- Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelidae)
- Leafcutter and Mason Bees (Megachilidae)
- Skippers (Hesperiidae)
- Sweat Bees, Halictid Bees and other Bees (Halictidae)
- Thick-headed Flies (Conopidae)
- Whites, Sulfurs, Orangtips, Marbles (Pieridae)
- Yellow-faced Bees (Colletidae)
- Yellowjacket, Potter, and other Wasps (Vespidae)