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Gattinger's Prairie Clover, Purpletassels, Purple Tassels - Dalea gattingeri


Family: Fabaceae - Pea family Genus Common Name: Prairie Clover Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Herb
Dalea gattingeri - Gattinger's Prairie Clover, Purpletassels, Purple Tassels. Dalea - the Prairie Clovers - is a fairly large genus with around 165 species, mostly of dry area in the Americas. There are more species in Mexico than in the United States, but there are over 60 species in the United States. Since they are found in dry areas it is to be expected that more species are found in the middle and southwestern parts of the United States than in the southeast, but Gattinger's Prairie Clover, Dalea gattingeri, is one of about a dozen found in the southeast. It is more common in middle Tennessee than in the other parts of its range - a few counties in East Tennessee, a few in Georgia, a few in Alabama, and 1 county each in Arkansas and Missouri. It blooms from May through August in limestone glades and other barrens that spend much of the year very dry.

Dalea purpurea is a similar species with a much wider distribution, as far east as Indiana south to middle Tennessee and northwest Georgia; much more widespread in the great plains states. Some differentiating characteristics are noted below in the descriptions accompanying the photographs.

Found in:
AL, AR, GA, MO, TN

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Dalea gattingeri

Distribution of Dalea gattingeri in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 Sep 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Chickamauga Battlefield Cedar Glade, Catoosa County, Ga Date: 2014-May-21Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Both Dalea gattingeri and Dalea purpurea have a somewhat compact floral head initially, made up of many purplish flowers. Those of D. gattingeri will lengthen notably as the flowers open from bottom to top, while that of D. purpurea will remain more compact.
Dalea gattingeri

Site: Chickamauga Battlefield Cedar Glade, Catoosa County, Ga Date: 2014-June-13Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Dalea gattingeri has a longer flowering head than that of D purpurea, especially late in the bloom period. That of D. gattingeri will lengthen notably as the flowers open from bottom to top, while that of D. purpurea will remain more compact.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Dalea gattingeri

Site: Chickamauga Battlefield Cedar Glade, Catoosa County, Ga Date: 2014-May-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Dalea gattingeri stems are usually branching in lower half; D. purpurea branches above the middle.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Dalea gattingeri

Site: Chickamauga Battlefield Cedar Glade, Catoosa County, Ga Date: 2014-May-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Dalea gattingeri plants may be upright or decumbent, 12-36 inches tall. It is a somewhat branching plant (rarely more than 3), and the branches usually occur in the lower half of the stem.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Dalea gattingeri

Site: Chickamauga Battlefield Cedar Glade, Catoosa County, Ga Date: 2014-May-21Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Dalea gattingeri has a pinnate compound leaf with 5-7 (occasionally 9) narrow leaflets; D. purpurea has 3-5 (occasionally 7.) I count a couple of leaves in this photo with 9.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Dalea gattingeri

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer