Feay’s prairieclover (Dalea feayi) taken at Juno Dunes Natural Area in Palm Beach County, Florida. Photo by Bob Peterson (CC BY 2.0)
Feay’s prairieclover (Dalea feayi)
Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Feay’s prairieclover is a low-growing shrub with a distinct rounded growth habit. It grows naturally in sandhills and scrubby habitats. In late spring through early fall, the plant may be covered in hundreds of fluffy pink flower balls. These delightful blooms attract a variety of pollinators, especially native bees. Butterflies are not known to frequent the flowers, but the plant is a larval host for the Southern dogface. The seeds are eaten by birds and other wildlife. Near-endemic, the plant occurs outside of Florida in only a few Georgia counties.
Feay’s prairieclover’s orb-like inflorescences are terminal spikes composed of 20 or more tiny pink flowers. Each flower bears five stamens, some with noticeable yellow anthers. Calyces are five-lobed. Leaves are odd-pinnately compound with three to nine narrow glandular leaflets. Stems are woody and branched. Seeds are born in reddish-brown flattened legumes.
The genus name Dalea is an homage to English physicist and naturalist Samuel Dale (1659–1739). The species epithet feayi honors American botanist William Feay (1803–1879).
Photo by Mary Keim
Family: Fabaceae (Legume, bean or pea family)
Native range: Central and southern peninsula, Wakulla and Franklin counties
To see where natural populations of Feay’s prairieclover have been vouchered, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: Zones 8B–10B
Soil: Dry, well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: 12–24” tall, equally wide
Propagation: Seed (may require scarification)
Garden tips: The unique mound-like form, attractive fern-like foliage and dazzling floral display of Feay’s prairieclover provide year-round interest in the landscape. Provided it is planted in full sun with good drainage, the plant is relatively easy to grow and maintain. Once established, it requires minimal care other than light pruning to keep it looking fresh.
Plants are occasionally available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.PlantRealFlorida.org to find a nursery in your area.