Dalea leporina (Foxtail Prairie Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as: Foxtail Dalea
Genus:Dalea
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:native
Habitat:sun; disturbed soils; roadsides, waste areas, fields, open woods, sandy banks
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:1 to 2 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] Erect, cylindric spike 1 to 2 inches long, single at the tips of branching stems, densely packed with tiny pea-shaped flowers. Flowers are 1/6 to ¼ inch long, white to pale pinkish or purple, the upper petal largest and erect to ascending, the lower and lateral petals about half as long as the upper. A column of 9 or 10 stamens with yellow to red tips protrudes from the center. The calyx holding the flower has 5 awl-shaped lobes, 10 ribs, and is covered in long white hairs. Flowers bloom from the bottom of the spike up, sometimes with just a small ring of flowers open at a time.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, up to 4 inches long, compound with 15 to 41 leaflets. Leaflets are ¼ to ½ inch long, oblong-elliptic or widest above the middle, toothless, hairless, mostly stalkless, sometimes red-tinged. The lower surface is much paler than the upper and gland dotted, the dots often showing through to the upper surface.

[photo of gland-dotted stems] Stems are multiple from the base, erect to spreading, usually much branched, hairless, and smooth except for scattered glands in the upper plant.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a 1-seeded pod about as long as the calyx.

Notes:

While not considered a rare species in Minnesota, Foxtail Prairie Clover is certainly uncommon. There have been only 3 records of it since 1900, the most recent in 1961 in Lac Qui Parle County. It is considered an adventive species and a bit weedy in the eastern US. It is easily distinguished from other Prairie Clovers by the larger flowers, densely hairy calyx, and gland-dotted compound leaves with numerous leaflets.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at the public boat launch in Bismarck, North Dakota.

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