By: Engineering Division Conservation Crews

Our plant of a week is a prairie powerhouse. Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea) is easily distinguished by its thimble-like purple flowery tutu. One would be more likely to spot this species in sunny, dry prairies and oak savannas. Its direct cousin (see photo), white prairie clover (Dalea candida), fills a similar ecological niche. Both Daleas are in the legume family and fix nitrogen. Not only that, these species are labeled a superfood for the federally endangered Rusty Patch bumble bee. Purple prairie clover is high in protein, therefore herbivores of all kinds readily snack on this nutritious treat. Due to its deliciousness, small rodents carry the seeds to their dens which aids in the distribution of this plant.Our crew discovered these on a new pollinator planting at Greentree Landfill while conducting invasive species control. The planting is in its second year and showing promising signs. The crew saw pioneer plant species such as golden alexander, wild bergamot, both prairie clovers, and swaths of black-eyed Susans. These are typical species that one would see in a new prairie restoration as they readily take advantage of disturbance. Seeing these plants is reassuring as prairie restorations can often look pretty rough in the first few years. With continued stewardship, we expect a development in plant composition and diversity over time.


Each week during the growing season, the Engineering Division focuses in on a Plant of the Week to raise awareness of different plants in the field that benefit our environment. The Engineering crews in the field tasked with conservation share expert insight on these plants and their benefits each week in a creative way!

plant of the week purple clover

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