purple prairie clover

(Dalea purpurea var. purpurea)

Conservation Status
purple prairie clover
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5? - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed


Purple prairie clover is a 8 to 36 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on multiple stems from a deep, stout taproot.

The stems are erect, slender, ribbed, and green. They are unbranched below the middle, branched or unbranched above the middle. They may be hairless or sparsely covered with short, matted or tangled, soft, woolly hairs.

The leaves are alternate and short-stalked. They are pinnately divided into usually 5, sometimes 3 or 7, very narrow leaflets. At the base of the leaf stalk there is a pair of leaf-like appendages (stipules). The stipules are linear and about 3 16 long.

The leaflets are linear to linear oblong, 5 16 to 1 long, and about 1 16 wide. They are short-stalked or nearly stalkless. The upper surface is sparsely covered with short, matted or tangled, soft, woolly hairs. The lower surface is dotted with translucent, sunken glands. The margins are untoothed and are rolled inward toward the upper side. The leaflets roll backward when they dry.

The inflorescence is a dense spike of numerous flowers at the end of the stem. The flowers at the bottom of the spike bloom first. The flowers above the bottom bloom in a ring and the spike continues to lengthen as the season progresses. The spike cone-shaped at first, eventually becoming cylinder-shaped and ¾ to 2¾ long. Each flower, except the lowest, is subtended by a short, papery, modified leaf (bract). The bract is inversely egg-shaped, about 3 16 long, and hairy. It tapers to a dark, awl-shaped tip.

The flowers are 3 16 to ¼ long. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 5 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are united at the base into a bell-shaped, long calyx tube then separated into 5 lobes. They are densely covered with silky or woolly hairs. The stamens are fused at their base into a white, long column. The petals are pinkish-purple and are distinctly narrowed at the base (clawed). Like other flowers in the pea family, they are arranged into an upper keel, formed by the fused upper two petals, two lateral wings, and a lower banner. Unlike other pea family flowers, they do not appear butterfly-like. Only the banner is attached at the base of the flower. The wings and keel are attached to the staminal column and appear as staminal appendages. The filaments above the staminal column are about long and are tipped with yellow anthers. The stamens and style protrude beyond the petals. The flowers are not fragrant.

The fruit is a tiny, egg-shaped pod enclosed within the persistent calyx. It contains 1 seed.




8 to 36


Flower Color




Similar Species


White prairie clover (Dalea candida) leaves have 5, 7, or 9 leaflets. The leaflets are much wider, up to ¼ wide. The flowers are white.


Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, meadows. Full sun.




June to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  


Fabaceae (legumes)  
  Subfamily Faboideae  
  Tribe Amorpheae  


Dalea (prairie clovers)  
  Species Dalea purpurea (purple prairie clover)  

Subordinate Taxa




Petalostemon mollis

Petalostemon purpureus

Petalostemon purpureus var. mollis


Common Names


purple prairie clover

purple prairie-clover

purple prairieclover

violet dalea

violet prairie clover

violet prairie-clover

violet prairieclover










The group of outer floral leaves (sepals) below the petals, occasionally forming a tube.



A stalk-like narrowed base of some petals and sepals.



On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.



Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.



On a compound leaf, having the leaflets arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk. On a bryophyte, having branches evenly arranged on opposite sides of a stem.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.



A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.

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Dan W. Andree


Bumble Bee on Purple Prairie Clover....

Taken at Sandpiper Prairie SNA rural Norman Co. Mn. July 20 2018.

  northern amber bumble bee  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


    purple prairie clover      


    purple prairie clover   purple prairie clover  
    purple prairie clover      

Tillered Plant

    purple prairie clover      


    purple prairie clover   purple prairie clover  
    purple prairie clover   purple prairie clover  
    purple prairie clover   purple prairie clover  


    purple prairie clover   purple prairie clover  


    purple prairie clover      



  Dalea purpurea
Matt Lavin
  Dalea purpurea  

Native perennial herb, stems less than 50 cm and arising several-many from a branched root crown, herbage glandular punctate, pods inconspicuous, concealed inside the small calyx tube and with 1-2 seeds, tolerates the stability of well managed rangeland and sagebrush steppe as well as the disturbance of roadsides, but readily grazed to local extinction (the same is true with the other species of this genus in Montana and vicinity).

  Petalostemum purpureum PURPLE PRAIRIE CLOVER
Frank Mayfield
  Petalostemum purpureum PURPLE PRAIRIE CLOVER  



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Other Videos
wnerraw's channel

Uploaded on Jul 19, 2010

flower is Dalea purpurea (purple prairie clover). both honeybees and bumblebees.




Visitor Sightings

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  Dan W. Andree

Location: Sandpiper Prairie SNA rural Norman Co. Mn.

northern amber bumble bee  
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