Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry fields, prairies, rocky areas
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: spike

[photo of flowers] A thimble-shaped flower head ½ to 2½ inches long at the top of the stem, the flowers blooming from the bottom of the spike up. Tiny 5-petaled purple flowers with orange or yellow-tipped stamens are densely packed around the cone. The calyx holding the flower is woolly, dull gray to rusty red, and easily visible in the upper spike where flowers have not yet bloomed.

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

[photo of leaves] Small compound leaves 1½ to 3 inches long, with 3 to 7 linear leaflets each up to 1 inch long and less than 1/8 inch wide. The leaves may be densely packed on the lower part of the stem and more sparse on the upper part. Attachment is alternate. Stems are multiple from the base, unbranched, hairless and slightly ridged.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a dry, hairless seed that remains in the calyx until dislodged by a strong enough wind or by critters.


Purple Prairie Clover typically grows in clumps. When not flowering it looks similar to White Prairie Clover (Dalea candida), which is less clump-forming and has broader leaflets. It is a great plant for pollinators and does well in a sunny home garden in average to dry soil.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kristin - Avon
on: 2009-08-02 18:02:17

These lovely little flowers bloom all along the wobegone trail between St. Joseph and Albany.

Posted by: Lisa - Nevis (12 miles from Park Rapi
on: 2009-08-19 09:18:40

I just noticed some of these beautiful little flowers this year for the first time. They are growing along the Heartland Trail just outside of Nevis.

Posted by: Ed - Houston County
on: 2011-07-08 20:26:26

I did a wild flowrer planting on a hillside at our La Crescent, MN Farm 7 years ago. This summer (2011) for the first time, these beautiful purple flowers came alive.

Posted by: Daniel - St. Paul, Lake Phalen
on: 2011-07-11 05:09:13

I saw only two of these flowers on my 3 mile walk around the lake. I hope they will not be molested so there will be more next year. I am from Illinois and have never seen them there. These flowers are beautiful!

Posted by: john - rochester, mn
on: 2011-07-14 22:48:46

I have seen these flowers along the bike trail, between mayowood and hy vee parking lot.

Posted by: Kari - Wayzata, hillside below the library
on: 2012-06-16 20:40:06

These blossoms remind me of ballerina tutus--and when you look closely, there's a tiny yellow-orange stamen --the color contrast is vivid up close!

Posted by: Stephanie - Hastings
on: 2012-06-23 15:17:30

These were growing in a local park near some wild daisys. They have an amazing scent! Their leaves smell strongly of an orange when crushed. My kids thought they smelled like "Cutie Oranges". So neat!

Posted by: Sue - Sauk Centre, 10 miles north on Co. 2
on: 2012-08-05 13:41:09

Seen them for the 1st time walking the dog in the road ditch. Very lovely!

Posted by: Jay - Lake Hiawatha, Minneapolis
on: 2013-07-08 11:26:28

Surprised to see these as part of the restoration effort along the northeastern shore of Lake Hiawatha not far from the recreation building. What a treat!

Posted by: Dianne - Blaine
on: 2013-07-23 14:52:05

Saw these today at Lochness Park in Blaine, on the trail around the lake.

Posted by: Darci - Minneapolis
on: 2013-08-14 15:56:18

I have these growing in a rain garden in front of my house in North Minneapolis and they are a fantastic addition. Super low-maintenance. This is year three and they really are unique and long-lasting. Even when not blooming, the bluish, lacy foliage is very pretty. For some reason the pollinators prefer my coneflowers and yarrow, though.

Posted by: Paul - SAINT PAUL
on: 2014-07-05 10:11:59

In abundance, just starting to bloom, at Ottawa Bluffs nature preserve, LeSueur County, 4 July 2014.

Posted by: Kerry - New Ulm
on: 2014-07-09 16:29:08

I just spotted this flower in our conservation reserve plot! It's gorgeous!

Posted by: Fred - Savage
on: 2014-07-12 19:14:24

This flower is growing along my hiking path in Savage.

Posted by: Jerry - Whitewater State Park (MN)
on: 2014-07-23 13:41:53

Found on the Chimney Rock trail on top of the bluff.

Posted by: linda - Hythecker S & N area
on: 2015-08-22 09:30:51

Found on a guided tour of this area on 8-8-15.

Posted by: luciearl - Owatonna, MN
on: 2016-07-17 08:44:17

Many of these blooming at Leo Rudolph Nature Preserve in mid July.

Posted by: Linda - Houston
on: 2017-07-14 21:07:43

Although I don't recall seeing them last year, these beauties are prolific along the Root River Trail on the western edge of Houston and are in full bloom right now.

Posted by: Mark - SE Wadena County
on: 2017-07-27 18:45:34

We have these blooming currently in our fields along side many other native prairie plants. The ground hasn't been tilled in over 45 yrs, so one can get an idea how the natural grassland looked prior to cultivation.

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