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Dalea purpurea Vent.

Purple prairie clover

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFabalesLegumes (pea and bean families)
FamilyFabaceaeLegume family (peas and beans)
GenusDaleaNamed after Samuel Dale (1659-1739), an English physician, botanist and botanical collector, and gardener who was the author of several botanical works and a treatise on medicinal plants. He was an associate of several major botanical figures in England, notably John Ray, one of the founding figures of British botany and zoology, William Sherard, and Mark Catesby

About plant names...

Purple prairie clover is native to North America, and common throughout much of the continent. Like many members of the legume family, this clover "fixes" nitrogen from the atmosphere, allowing it to thrive in soils that are too poor to support many other plants.

Identification: Plants are 9-36″ (22-91 cm) tall, unbranched when young, becoming multiply branched when older. The main stem is woody and ridged. Leaves are odd pinnate, with 3-7 leaflets per group, each ⅜-1½″ (1-4 cm) long × ⅛″ (3.2 mm) wide. The flowerhead is a spike or cylinder on the tip of each branch, ⅜-2½″ (1-6.6 cm) × ¾-1¼″ (1.9-3.2 cm) in diameter when flowering. Flowerheads don't bloom all at once—there is a band of bright purple flowers somewhere along the green head at any given time. Individual flowers are about ¼″ (8.5 mm) in size, with five magenta-purple petals and five tiny yellow anthers.

Edibility: Some indigenous peoples chewed the roots, said to have a pleasant, sweet flavor. Dried leaves have been used as a substitute for tea.

Online References:

Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Illinois Wildflowers

The USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

The University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Montana Plant Life

Dalea purpurea (purple prairie clover)

6/3/2009 · Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah · ≈ 3½ × 5″ (8.8 × 13 cm)


Dalea purpurea description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Dalea purpurea (purple prairie clover)

6/3/2009 · Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah · ≈ 8 × 5″ (19 × 13 cm)

Dalea purpurea (purple prairie clover)

6/3/2009 · Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah

Range: Zones 3-8:

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