A once abundant Wisconsin native perennial growing naturally in prairie-like settings, Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea) prefers full sun and dry soil and can tolerate occasional drought once established. Sitting atop multiple stems decorated in deep green, pea-like foliage, cylinder-shaped spikes of magenta-purple florets appear in mid-summer. Blooming from the bottom and gradually upwards, flowers last from four to six weeks, and then turn into clusters of small grayish-brown seed pods.
With its texture, interesting shape, arresting color, high pollinator value, and nitrogen-fixing abilities Purple Prairie Clover is a dynamo in the garden. Lower in height and tolerant of most conditions, they can be used in rock, native, pollinator, and perennial gardens, as well as prairie restorations. They are so unusual looking, expect people to stop and inquire about these lovely plants. Plant in masses for a showy display!
Purple Prairie Clover is an excellent choice to stabilize areas, anchoring plants in place and preventing erosion with its thick taproot that can extend up to 6′ deep into the soil. A member of the pea family (Fabaceae), Purple Prairie Clover traps airborne nitrogen into the soil and acts as a fertilizer when spent plants are left to enrich the soil. For this reason, they are fantastic for tough spots with troublesome soil in need of help and restoration.
Thimble-like flower heads and vibrant color make an outstanding accent flower in cut arrangements, either fresh or dried.