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Dalea frutescens (Black dalea)
Richardson, Charmaine

Dalea frutescens

Dalea frutescens A. Gray

Black Dalea, Black Prairie Clover

Fabaceae (Pea Family)

Synonym(s): Dalea frutescens var. laxa

USDA Symbol: dafr2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Thornless shrub up to 3 feet tall; stems gray to light brown, leaf bearing twigs thin, reddish brown. Occasional on shallow soil over limestone in unshaded upland situations. Leaves up to 1 inch long, divided into as many as 8 pairs of small leaflets and a terminal one on a central axis, leaflets 5 1/16 inch or less long, gland dotted on the lower surface. Glands visible under a 10x hand lens. Flowers in dense heads or spikes at the ends of branches, small, purple, opening from July to October. Fruit an inconspicuous capsule.


From the Image Gallery

68 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 3 feet tall.
Flower: Flowers 1/2 inch

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


Native Distribution: S.e. OK, s. & w. to w. TX, NM & n. Mex.
Native Habitat: Dry, scrubby, limestone hills

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Moist, rich, slightly acid soils. Dry, limestone soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: The fine ferny texture of Black dalea foliage contrasts well with other plants such as Prickly pear and grasses. Use this fast growing, mounding shrub in any dry garden that calls for both flowers and a defined form. Overwatering and fertilization can cause legginess, weak growth, and reduced flowering. Drought-resistant. Once established, this plant requires little or no maintenance.


Use Ornamental: Attractive, Blooms ornamental, Easily grown, Planned landscape, Mass planting
Use Wildlife: Rabbits and deer will browse on this plant. Cover, Nectar-bees, Nectar-insects.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Dogface butterfly
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal

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.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Small shrub to plant in Austin Texas
March 11, 2009
Hi.. I live in Southwest Austin and I am looking for a shrub that I can plant against the back of my house, which faces the north. I want something native, fairly low maintenance and not too large,...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for butterfly garden in Waco, TX
February 03, 2008
Few weeks ago I sent you a letter but never got an answer back. I would like to have your suggestions of native plants for a butterfly garden (30'x 30') here in Waco. The plants must be (1)drought ...
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
NPSOT - Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX


Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
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
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-06-17
Research By: GDB

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