Dalea purpurea


Purple prairie clover in bloom

This herbaceous perennial plant is unbranched and ¾–3′ tall. The central stem is slightly ridged and hairless. The odd-pinnate compound leaves alternate as they ascend the stem. They consist of 3-7 leaflets and tend to be quite short, approximately 2-5″ long. Each leaflet is dark green, linear in shape, and about 1″ long and 1/8″ across. At the top of the plant is a dense cylindrical spike of flowers about 1-2″ long and about half as much or less across. Each purple flower is about ¼” across, with 5 small petals and 5 golden anthers that protrude outward. These flowers bloom together as a flowery wreath at the bottom of the spike, which gradually moves upward at the season progresses. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer, and lasts about 1–1½ months. The root system consists of a stout taproot that runs deep into the ground. The seeds travel only a short distance from the mother plant when the cylindrical spikes are shaken by the wind.


  1. First Flower: Date the first flowers are fully open. When open, you will see the stamens among the unfolded petals.
  2. Full Flower: Date when half or more of the flowers are completely open
  3. First Ripe Fruit: Date when you notice the first fruits becoming fully ripe or seeds dropping naturally from the plant. Ripening is indicated by the berries turning red, yellow, orange, or maroon.
  4. Full Fruiting: Date when half or more of the fruits are completely ripe or seeds are dropping naturally from the plant.
  5. All Leaves Withered: Date when most or all of the leaves that developed this season, have lost green color or are dried and dead.

Information from: www.wildflower.org and www.illinoiswildflowers.info

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