Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Dalea greggii

Gregg dalea, Gregg's prairie clover, Trailing indigo bush, Indigo bush

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Dalea greggii (Gregg dalea)
Cox, Paul
Greggs prairie-clover or indigo bush is a 4-9 in., trailing sub-shrub, spreading 2-4 ft. Grown mostly for its silvery, blue-green, delicately compound leaves, the shrub is awash with clusters of tiny, pea-shaped purple flowers in spring and early summer.

This plant is a good ground cover for rocky slopes and exposed sites in the Southwest. Grown chiefly for its foliage, but also gets covered with purple blooms in summer. It will tolerate dry conditions well.

The species name “greggii” was named for Josiah Gregg, (1806-1850). He was born in Overton County, Tennessee. In the summer of 1841 and again in the winter of 1841-42 he traveled through Texas, up the Red River valley, and later from Galveston to Austin and by way of Nacogdoches to Arkansas. He took note of Texas geology, trees, prevalent attitudes, and politics. At the same time, Gregg began compiling his travel notes into a readable manuscript. His “Commerce of the Prairies”, which came out in two volumes in 1844, was an immediate success. In 1848 he joined a botanical expedition to western Mexico and California, during which he corresponded with and sent specimens to the eminent botanist George Engelman in St. Louis. Subsequently, the American Botanical Society added the Latin name “greggii” in his honor to twenty-three species of plants. Gregg died on February 25, 1850, as a result of a fall from his horse.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Pubescence: Tomentose
Size Notes: Normally 4-9 inches tall, but can reach 1-2 feet high.
Leaf: Silvery blue-green
Flower: Flowers 1/2 inch
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


Native Distribution: S.e. Trans-Pecos in TX, southeast in Mexico to Tamaulipas and south as far as Oaxaca.
Native Habitat: In the northern part of its range, rocky, limestone hills in the Chihuahuan Desert; 2000 to 5000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, dry granitic, sand, clay, loam, limestone, or gravelly soils with little organic content.
Conditions Comments: As a plant native to the Chihuahuan Desert region, where rains come in the summer, it will need some irrigation during dry summers, no more than twice a month. It must have good drainage in regions with wet winters, or else it will rot. Rainy autumns, too, may encourage new growth, which can then be damaged by winter freezes. May not survive temperatures below the teens and can take years to recover from such low temperatures.


Use Ornamental: Great as a groundcover or pot plant for the Southwest, valued mainly for its foliage.
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract bees and butterflies. A larval plant for several butterfly species.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Last Update: 2009-03-03