Purple Prairie Clover

 

 

Other names: thimbleweed, red tassel flower

Blooming time: June to September

Height: 1-2 ft.

Stems and Leaves: Purple prairie clover may have 8-10 slender, erect stems arising from one root system. The leaves are short and petioled with an odd number of 1/4-3/4 inch leaflets.

Flowers and Fruit: Individual flowers are about 1/4 in. long and cluster tightly around a cylindrical cone starting at the base of the head and working upward as the season advances. Each flower has one large petal and four smaller ones, all on slender claws. The flower spike is from 1/2 -2 inches long.

Interesting facts: American Indians used a tea made from the prairie clover plant to treat open wounds. A tea made from crushed root was thought to be a preventative medicine. Settlers mixed the bark of the white oak with the flowers of prairie clover to make a drink they used as a medicine for diarrhea. The Ponca chewed the roots for the pleasant taste. Indian women gathered the tough, elastic stems to make brooms. The prairie clovers enrich the soil by adding nitrogen to it.

 
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Page last updated March 24, 2015
Text resources: Wildflowers of the Tallgrass Prairie- The Upper Midwest, Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roosa;
A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Northeastern and North-central North America, Roger Tory Peterson and Margaret McKenny
Photos by Barb McGee - bjmcreations.com