Purple Prairie Clover

Purple Prairie Clover

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Dalea purpurea 

Exposure: Full sun
Soil: Medium-dry
Height: 2 feet
Bloom: July-August

Notable Features: Purple Prairie Clover is a staple legume of sunny, diverse plantings in medium to dry soils. This plant is not picky when it comes to the soil characteristics, as long as the site is well-drained. Purple Prairie Clover has a deep taproot that ensures it will last in any native planting. It has a thimble-shaped flower arrangement which blooms from the bottom to the top. These purple flowers do not have a noticeable floral scent, but the flowers attract a number of pollinators. This plant is listed as a superfood for the Rusty Patched Bumblebee. Even after the flowers are done blooming, Purple Prairie Clover remains very attractive due to its ornamental foliage. If you have lots of rabbits or deer, we recommend caging this plant during establishment.

Attracts: The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract many kinds of insects, including honeybees, bumblebees, cuckoo bees (Triepeolus spp., Coelioxys spp.), long-horned bees (Melissodes spp.), leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.), Halictid bees (including green metallic bees), plasterer bees (Colletes spp.), Sphecid wasps, Tiphiid wasps, Syrphid flies, bee flies (Bombyliidae), thick-headed flies (Conopidae), small butterflies, skippers, and beetles. The following plasterer bees are specialist pollinators of Dalea spp. (prairie clovers): Colletes albescens, Colletes robertsonii, Colletes susannae, and Colletes wilmattae. Other insects feed destructively on the seeds, foliage, and other parts of Purple Prairie Clover. These species include seed-eating larvae of some weevils (Apion reconditum, Apion tenuirostrum, Apion capitone), seed-eating larvae of a beetle (Acanthoscelides seminulum), a plant bug (Lopidea minor), Three-spotted Treehopper (Vanduzea triguttata), Little Pasture Grasshopper (Melanoplus confusus), and larvae of two butterflies, the Dogface Sulphur (Colias cesonia) and Reakirt's Blue (Hemiargus isola). Purple Prairie Clover is palatable and high in protein, therefore mammalian herbivores of all kinds eat this plant readily. It can be difficult to establish in some areas if there is an abundance of these animals. It is possible that small rodents carry the seeds to their dens, which may aid in the distribution of this plant.