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Info Sheet PDF
Black Dalea

Dalea frutescens

Mature Height*: 

5 feet

Mature Width*: 

5 feet

USDA Hardiness Zone Range:


Hardy to: 


Water Requirements: 

erought tolerant

Shade Requirements:

Full sun

Native to:

Southwest United States and Sonoran Mexico

Origin and Adaptability:

Originating from the arid landscapes of North America, Dalea frutescens, commonly known as Black Dalea, is a versatile and resilient plant that thrives in a variety of climates. Well-suited for landscapes with arid conditions, this plant adapts to well-drained soils, providing landscape architects with a sturdy and adaptable design option. Also recognized by the name Black Prairie Clover, this plant offers a unique combination of beauty and functionality to outdoor designs.

Architectural Form and Foliage:

Black Dalea is characterized by its distinctive architectural form as a perennial shrub. Its fine, fern-like foliage adds an elegant touch to outdoor spaces, creating a visually appealing canvas for landscape architects. Whether used as a standalone focal point, incorporated into mixed plantings, or part of a native plant palette, the shrub's foliage enhances the overall aesthetic appeal, contributing to a well-balanced and visually pleasing design.

Floral Display and Growth Speed:

The plant showcases slender spikes of dark purple to nearly black flowers, providing a striking floral display. With a moderate growth rate, Black Dalea ensures a harmonious balance between prompt establishment and long-term manageability for landscape designers. This characteristic allows for the creation of landscapes that evolve gracefully over time, offering clients dynamic and aesthetically pleasing outdoor environments.

Light and Water Requirements:

Thriving under full sunlight, Black Dalea reaches its full potential when exposed to at least six hours of sunlight daily. While it can tolerate partial shade, providing abundant sunlight enhances its growth and overall vibrancy. As a drought-tolerant species, Black Dalea requires minimal water once established, making it an ideal choice for sustainable landscape designs.

Wildlife Support and Biodiversity:

Indigenous to North America, Black Dalea plays a crucial role in supporting local biodiversity. Its flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, providing landscape architects with an opportunity to create outdoor spaces that contribute to the well-being of native pollinating wildlife. Additionally, the plant may support various bird species, enhancing the ecological balance of the landscape.

Cultural Significance and Local Context:

While specific traditional uses might not be extensively documented, some plants in the Dalea genus have been historically used by indigenous communities for medicinal purposes. Native American tribes often had a deep knowledge of local flora and their potential health benefits. Landscape architects can highlight its regional significance and incorporate it into designs that reflect the local flora, fostering a sense of connection to the surrounding environment.

Challenges and Considerations:

Black Dalea is generally low-maintenance, but landscape architects should consider its mature size and growth habit during the planning stages. Pruning and maintenance may be required to ensure optimal flowering and a well-structured growth pattern. The shrub's adaptability to different soil types and conditions makes it a versatile choice, but attention to these details contributes to its overall health and longevity in the landscape.

Integration into Landscape Designs:

With its striking floral display, adaptability, and moderate growth rate, Black Dalea seamlessly integrates into diverse landscape designs. Designers can use it to enhance xeriscape gardens, introduce a focal point in rock gardens, or as a key element in native plantings, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal of outdoor spaces. As a member of the legume family, Black Dalea has nitrogen-fixing nodules on its roots, enhancing soil fertility. This trait is ecologically important as it helps neighboring plants access essential nutrients.

Designing with Black Dalea:

For landscape architects and designers, Dalea frutescens, commonly known as Black Dalea, provides an opportunity to infuse outdoor spaces with vibrant floral displays, wildlife support, and adaptability. Landscape architects and designers may choose native plants like Black Dalea for their projects to create designs that are ecologically sustainable and reflective of the local environment. This aligns with a growing appreciation for native plant landscaping and habitat restoration. Whether featured prominently or subtly integrated into a diverse plant palette, this shrub adds a touch of elegance and ecological balance to landscape designs, creating dynamic and environmentally conscious outdoor environments.

*Height and width estimated for growth in the Tucson, AZ area. True sizes may vary.

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