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Dalea scariosa
(La Jolla prairie clover)

[taxon report][distribution map][all photos][line drawing]



Family: Fabaceae

Scientific Name: Dalea scariosa S. Watson

Synonyms: Parosela scariosa (S. Watson) A. Heller; Petalostemon prostratum Wooton & Standley; Petalostemon scariosum (S. Watson) Wemple

Vernacular Name: La Jolla prairie clover

R-E-D Code: 1-1-3

Description: Strong perennial from a stout taproot; stems prostrate to spreading, 20-70 cm long; leaves pinnately compound, 1-2.5 cm long, bright green, leaflets 5-9, thick, broadest near tip, 3-8 mm long; flowers in spikes, zygomorphic, pea-like, petals 5, pale pink to pink-purple, 7-8 mm long, the calyx with 5 pointed teeth, the vase-like base 5-ribbed and dotted with orange or reddish glands; pod 3-4 mm long, plump, dotted with small glands like the calyx. Flowers August and September.

Similar Species: There are many species of Dalea in New Mexico. The combination of herbaceous habit, spreading stems, bright green glabrous foliage, few small leaflets, and concolorous petals helps to distinguish this species from others.


Distribution: New Mexico, Bernalillo, Sandoval, Socorro, and Valencia counties, central Rio Grande Basin.

Habitat: Open sandy clay banks and bluffs, often along roadsides, at about 1,450-1,500 m (4,750-4,900 ft).

Remarks: This plant is often locally abundant within its restricted area of distribution, frequently occurring on sites disturbed just a few years earlier. Dropped in 2017. Distribution no longer fits the NMRPTC definition of rare (SEINet)

Conservation Considerations: The species has a resinous odor, and probably is largely unpalatable to most livestock. Plants are often found along recently disturbed road right-of-ways and, thus, may be rather early successional.

Important Literature (*Illustration):

*Barneby, R.C. 1977. Daleae imagines. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 27:1-891.

*New Mexico Native Plants Protection Advisory Committee. 1984. A handbook of rare and endemic plants of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

Wemple, D.K. 1970. Revision of the genus Petalostemum (Leguminosae). Iowa State Journal of Science 45:1-102.

Information Compiled By: Richard Spellenberg, 1999

Agency Status:
Taxon USFWS State of NM USFS BLM Navajo Nation Natural Heritage NM Global Rank
Dalea scariosaSoCSoC...S3G3


Photo credits in header Peniocereus greggii var. greggii © T. Todsen,
Lepidospartum burgessii © M. Howard, Argemone pleiacantha ssp. pinnatisecta © R. Sivinski
©2005 New Mexico Rare Plant Technical Council