White Prairie Clover
Description & Overview
This eco-beneficial perennial draws the eye in with tall green spikes emerging from a crown of white flowers that work their way upwards throughout the season. White Prairie Clover is a native perennial that thrives in mesic (average moisture) to dry conditions, with full sun or partial shade. A positive addition to any native or non-native landscape, it attracts a variety of wildlife. A beautiful, season long bloomer that boasts importance in restoring native ecosystems.
Plant White Prairie Clover in mesic or dry conditions, in a pollinator garden or prairie setting. Could be useful along roadways in urban conditions. The taproot can extend up to 5ft into the ground, making it slowly but easily established. Mowing prairies at a height that doesn’t harm seedlings is important to keep White Prairie Clover coming back. Add to a native perennial garden, along sidewalks, in foundation beds or any site with dry soil where it is hard to establish moist soil-loving perennials.
Abundant in wildlife value, Dalea candida provides a source of food for many mammals as well as pollinators. The nectar attracts bumblebees, an assortment wasps, green metallic bees, and small butterflies. The larvae of both Dogface Sulphur and Reakirt’s Blue butterflies feed on this plant as well. High in protein, and easily palatable (sweet taste) White Prairie Clover is consumed by rabbits, groundhogs, deer and livestock. It plays an important role in native grasslands, where gophers utilize the taproot the extends up to 5’ into the ground. Part of the legume family, it is also browsed heavily by antelope, and birds and rodents eat the seed. This plants ability to fix nitrogen proves its vital role in restoration areas. Repopulating native grasslands with White Prairie Clover will assist greatly in it’s important ecological role with both soil and animals.
Drought tolerant, White Prairie Clover sites best in dyer conditions. Place in full sun to partial shade for best flowering capabilities. It will not tolerate consistently wet soils. If planting in a prairie setting to be mowed, be sure to mow at a correct height and time of year to not disturb seedlings early in the season. This will allow for good habit and establishment.
Pruning is unnecessary but can be pruned back to the ground in fall if desired. Plant has great ability to fix nitrogen in soil as well and fertilization will not be needed. Very low maintenance perennial!
A tasty treat for rabbits, they enjoy feasting on the foliage of Dalea candida. This can pose a threat to damage young seedlings before they have time to establish. Damage to the taproot can also be caused by gophers to the point where it can harm the longevity of this perennial. Rust may appear when over-watered or foliage remains too wet. Good habit practices and siting can help to deter all these issues. White Prairie Clover offers a great way to reduce the need to use chemical pesticides in the landscape.
Native Americans have used this plant for both food and medicine, the Lakota chewed its roots for the pleasant sweet taste. The leaves were also tried and used to make tea. According to the USDA, other Great Plains tribes bruised the leaves, steeped them in water and applied to fresh wounds. The Pawnees bundled the stems together, as they are very tough to create a broom – calling the plant broom weed.
It is a very easy plant to collect and propagate from seed.
Commonly seen growing alongside Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpureum) as they naturally occur in the same conditions. Combine with other drought tolerant perennials like Leadplant, Big Bluestem, Butterflyweed, Wild Bergamot, and Compass Plant for a variety of colors and textures. Use American Filbert and native sumacs as larger shrubs in these planting locations.