The unique flowers of this prairie native make it a welcome addition to a wildflower garden. The small purple flowers are produced on 1-2” cone-like spikes and are accented by golden anthers that extend beyond the petals. The flowers begin to open at the bottom of the cone and form a wreath that gradually moves upward. The result is a long bloom period that extends from mid-summer into fall. The flowers attract bees and the plant is a host plant for sulfur butterfly larva. The plant is anchored by a large taproot making it drought tolerant but difficult to transplant. Like other plants in the legume family, purple prairie clover fixes nitrogen in the soil and is valuable in re-vegetation and prairie restoration. It is high in protein and is excellent forage for livestock and wildlife.
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Bloom: Small purple flowers with orange stamens are produced on spikes at the top of wiry stems from mid summer to fall.
Foliage: Pinnately compound leaves are dark green and are fine textured.
Size: 12-24” H x 12-18” W
Light: Full sun; tolerates some shade
Soil: Humus rich, average-dry, well-drained, neutral to slightly alkaline
Fertilizer: Needs no nitrogen; apply phosphorus and potassium if soil is deficient in these nutrients.
Hardiness: Zones 3-8
Care: Low maintenance
Pests and Diseases: None of significance
Propagation: Seeds (scarify with sandpaper); does not transplant well.
Companion plants: White prairie clover (Dalea candida), pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida), whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), nodding wild onion (Allium cernuum), and culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum).