Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dalea scariosa (La Jolla prairie clover)

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

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).
This plant is often locally abundant within its restricted area of distribution, frequently occurring on sites disturbed just a few years earlier.

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