Feather Dalea, Featherplume

Dalea formosa Torr.

Fabaceae (Legume family)


Feather Dalea is a small, thornless, colony-forming shrub that is usually under 3 feet or 0.91 m tall but can reach up to 6 feet or 1.83 m in height. Its gray-brown stems are largely hairless, crooked, and widely branched.  The leaves are pinnately compound and very short. Each leaf will have 5 to 10 pairs of thick leaflets that fold up along the edges or tip and are gray-green in color. The leaves are also hairless and emerge straight from the stem or have a very short petiole.  From April to October, Feather Dalea's purple flowers bloom. They form loose clusters of 2 to 10 flowers on short stalks. Flowers have a bright yellow banner petal that contrasts with the purple corolla. The bracts of each flower have silky hair on the outsides. The fruit is a flat hairy pod containing 1 to 2 seeds.  Feather Dalea holds little value as a forage plant for livestock but is valuable as a forage source for deer and rabbits. It also provides a nectar source for insects. 


Feather Dalea is found on dry hills at altitudes from 2,000-6,500 feet or 610-1981 m. Native habitat includes dry, scrubby areas. Plants will become leggy in good soils or if fertilized.