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Dalea formosa (Featherplume)
Terrell, Alan C.

Dalea formosa

Dalea formosa Torr.

Featherplume, Feather Dalea, Indigobush

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Parosela formosa

USDA Symbol: dafo

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Featherplume is a 2-3 ft., thornless, colony-forming shrub which can reach 6 ft. in height. A low scraggly shrub bearing tiny, pinnately compound leaves and pea flowers with yellow and bright purple to pink-purple petals in short, head-like racemes. It forms large, low-spreading, finely-textured mounds with silvery, delicately compound leaves. Short, spike-like clusters of fuzzy, purple flowers cover the blooming plant. Close inspection reveal a bright yellow banner petal contrasting with the rose-purple corolla. Blossoms are followed by flat, shaggy-haired seed pods.

One of many shrubby species of Dalea, this plant--with its dark bark, contorted branches, and small leaves--is an excellent candidate for bonsai.


From the Image Gallery

58 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Leaf: Gray-Green
Flower: Flowers in 2 inch clusters

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AZ , CO , NM , OK , TX
Native Distribution: OK & CO, s. to n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Dry, scrubby areas

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Poor, dry, rocky soils. Limestone-based, Caliche type, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam Clay
Conditions Comments: Will get leggy in good soil or if fertilized. Should be cut back in the spring. Good ground cover.


Use Ornamental: Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Easily grown
Use Wildlife: Rabbits and deer will browse on this plant. Browse, Nectar-insects
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees
Special Value to Bumble Bees
Special Value to Honey Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Propagation Material: Seeds
Seed Collection: Collect the pods from summer to early fall when they are no longer green and are beginning to dry. Separate seeds from pods before sowing or storage. Fumigate seeds before storage.
Seed Treatment: Seeds require no pretreatment for germination.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX


Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 995 - Native Landscaping from El Paso to L.A. (2000) Wasowski, S. and A. Wasowski
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 248 - Texas Wildflowers: A Field Guide (1984) Loughmiller, C. & L. Loughmiller
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

USDA: Find Dalea formosa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Dalea formosa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Dalea formosa


Record Modified: 2021-10-13
Research By: TWC Staff

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