Content Detail

Purple prairie-clover is a native prairie plant that produces a distinctive wreath of purple flowers around the base of a spike.  Beloved by pollinators, they will bloom starting in early to mid-summer and continue for four to six weeks.

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Pea
  • Family (botanic) Fabaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Dry soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early summer, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance Purple
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow

Size: 

Purple prairie-clover grows 1 to 3 feet tall and 12 to 18 inches wide.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

C-Value: 9.  Native to most of the Central part of the United States.

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

This local native attracts multiple pollinators, butterflies, birds and hummingbirds.

Leaf description:  

The alternate leaves are compound, with small leaflets arranged on opposite sides of the stem and one at the end.  The full size is between two and five inches long.

Flower description: 

Multiple,one-quarter inch purple flowers form a wreath around a central spike.  The flowers open from the bottom upward as the season progresses.   The flowers are held at the ends of pale green, ridged stems.

Fruit description:

The fruit are dry, tiny legumes, similar to very small pea-pods.

Plant care:

Plant purple prairie-clover in full sun and average to dry, well-drained soil.  It does not transplant well because of a deep taproot, but will reseed.

 

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

No serious problems.  Good drought resistance.

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