Wildflowers of Southern Arizona
Wright's Prairie Clover.
Pea (Fabaceae) family.
Duration: Perennial. Nativity: Native. Lifeform: Forb/Herb. General: Low perennial herb, to 10 cm tall, from a woody taproot and short caudex. Stems several, erect to ascending; herbage silky-canescent. Leaves: Alternate and pinnately compund, 2-4 cm long, with 5-7 leaflets per leaf; leaflets 5-15 mm long, elliptic to obovate with pointed tips, silky-canescent on upper and lower surfaces. Flowers: Yellow when fresh and drying to purplish-pink, in stout, dense spikes 2-6 cm long; flowers about about 1.5 cm long, with pea-flower morphology (papilionaceous), with a wide upper petal called the banner, two smaller lateral petals called the wings, and a boat-shaped lower petal called the keel which contains the style and stamens. Petals yellow when fresh, fading to a rose or purplish color; sepals 5, covered with silky hairs, united at the base into a tube 3 mm long, this topped with 5 bristle-like teeth, 6 mm long. Fruits: Pods pubescent, small, and contained within the persistent hairy calyx; containing 1 or 2 seeds. Ecology: Found on dry slopes, from 4,500-5,000 ft (1372-1524 m); flowers May-October. Notes: Distinguished by being more low-growing than many other perennial Daleas in the region; the silky hairs all over, often dense and giving the plant a silvery-green color; the pointed leaflets; and the stout, dense, hairy spike 15-20 mm wide with yellow flowers. It is most similar to D. jamisii, but that species has 3-foliate leaves, while this one has 5-7 leaflets per leaf. D. brachystachya also has yellow flowers, but that species is a slender, delicate annual. D. nana is also somewhat similar, but that species has much longer stems; the leaflets don't have pointed tips; and the teeth at the top of the calyx are about the same length as the calyx tube (in D. wrightii, the calyx teeth are about twice as long as the tube). Etymology: Dalea is named for Samuel Dale (1659-1739) an English physician and botanist, while wrightii is named for Charles Wright (1811-1885) an American botanical collector.
Saguaro National Park East.
Location: Loma Alta trailhead
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