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FutureStarrDalea Purpurea Leaves
A mature plant that tillers at the base is very attractive when it is in full bloom. Also, the foliage is somewhat ornamental and remains attractive throughout the growing season. This plant is not easily confused with any other species, perhaps the most similar being Dalea candida (White Prairie Clover), which has white flowers and foliage that is lighter-colored and somewhat longer. In the past, the scientific name for this plant was Petalostemum purpureum.
Species of genus Dalea are legumes. Most legume species harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia on their roots. Genus-specific strains of this bacterium called inoculum can aid in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen and improve long-term health of native plant communities. Inoculum is naturally-occurring in most soils and additional amendment is usually not needed. However, in low fertility soils it may be necessary. Genus-specific strains are available at prairiemoon.com/inoculum Dalea purpurea is a common member of the flora on the plains of central North America, occurring in a variety of habitat types, including several types of grassland. It occurs in glades, riverbanks and floodplains, oak woodlands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, shrubsteppe, many types of forests, and the Sand Hills of Nebraska. It occurs in a variety of prairie ecosystems. On tallgrass prairie it is associated with plants such as little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), lead plant (Amorpha canescens), and silky aster (Symphyotrichum sericeum). On midgrass prairie it grows alongside several grasses such as silver bluestem (Bothriochloa saccharoides), purple threeawn (Aristida purpurea), sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), and sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus). On shortgrass prairie it is associated with grasses such as blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), hairy grama (B. hirsuta), and buffalo grass (B. dactyloides). This species may be considered an indicator of pristine prairie.
Dalea purpurea is a perennial herb growing 20 to 90 cm (8 to 35 in) tall. The mature plant has a large taproot 5.5 to 6.5 feet (1.7 to 2.0 m) deep. The stem is woody with several branches. The leaves are a few centimeters long and are divided into 3 to 7 narrow leaflets. The inflorescence atop each stem branch is a spike up to 7 cm (2+3⁄4 in) long containing many purple flowers. The fruit is a legume pod containing 1 or 2 seeds.A long-lived prairie native, Dalea purpurea (Purple Prairie Clover) is an attractive perennial boasting plump, knobby rose-purple flower heads atop upright wiry stems. Blooming for 4-6 weeks in summer, they attract bees, bumblebees, and butterflies. Birds feast on the seeds once the floral display ends. The charming blossoms hover above the fine-textured foliage of compound, odd-pinnate leaves adorned with 3-5 narrow leaflets. Dalea purpurea originates from a sturdy taproot that supplies fertility to the soil through nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Purple Prairie Clover is an excellent range species that is valued for its high protein content. It is used for re-vegetation and prairie restoration and produces excellent forage for livestock and wildlife. Extremely resistant to heat and drought, Purple Prairie Clover is perfect for rock gardens, borders, native plant gardens, wild gardens, prairie or naturalized areas. (Source: www.gardenia.net)