Larsen, Native Plants of Arizona 2004
Common names: Featherplume, feather dalea (1,2,3,4,9),
feathery dalea (3), indigo bush, pea bush (4), feather indigo (6).
Family: Fabaceae (1) (alt. Leguminosae) (10)
Synonymy: Parosela formosa Vail (7)
Etymology: Dalea honors the English botanist Samuel
Dale; formosa refers to the “pretty flowers” (2) or meaning
finely formed, handsome, beautiful, shapely, in reference to flowers
Growth form: Shrubby, stems 25-60 (70) cm. tall, intricately
Stem: Divaricately branched, rigid (8), glabrous (3),
bark light gray to brown (9), thorns none (7).
Leaves: Odd-pinnately compound, dark green (4), leaf
seldom more than 1 cm. long, sessile or very short petiolulate (9),
leaflets 7-11(15) narrowly obovate, 1-3 mm. long, thick and often conduplicate,
glaborous, dotted with glands (3).
Inflorescence/flowers: Flowers in 2-10 flowered head-like
spikes (3), axis 1-2 mm. long (7). Corolla rose-purple, free banner
sometimes yellowish or cream-colored (4) mostly on claw, blade of banner
2-4 mm. long, claw about as long, blades of the keel and wings longer
but the claws shorter. Wings and keel attached to 9-10 stamens (7,9),
monadelphous (9). Calyx long villous, campanulate tube 3-4 mm., longitudinally
ribbed, the lobes 5.16-5.40 in. long, ovate-attenuate bract subtending
each flower, glabrous on back, silky on margins, glandular (3,7,9).
Fruit: Obovate flat pod, 3 mm., pillose on apical margin,
(6,7), glandular-dotted (3,6), enclosed in calyx (7,9) indehiscent,
1-2 seeded (9) .
Similar species: There are 58 species in the genera
Dalea (10). Dalea formosa is distinct from other species of Dalea due
to the rose-purple color of the flower and long villous lobes on the
Life history: Low perennial woody shrub to subshrub
Native/introduced: Native to the Southwestern United
States and northern Mexico(10).
Phenology: Flowers April to June (3) sometimes March
to September (4, 5).
Distribution: Colorado, southern Utah, western Texas
and Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona (2,3,5), and northern Mexico (5).
2,000 to 6,500 (7,000) feet elevation (3,4,5,6) on dry, rocky hillsides
(2,6), mountains, dry plains (4), mesas, southern canyons (6). Gravelly
or rocky slopes in upper Mojavean, Arizona, and Chihuahuan deserts,
desert grasslands, and southwestern oak woodland. In Arizona below the
Mogollon Rim from Yavapai County southeastward to eastern Pima, Santa
Cruz, and Cochise counties.
Browsed by deer and lightly by livestock (2,4,7), kangaroo rats eat
the seeds (8), pollinated by bees (4). Pueblo Indians dried the flowering
branches for a sweet tea to relieve aches and growing pains. Hopi used
as a remedy for influenza and viral infections (a “cold”
herb for fevers) (6). The Acoma and Laguna Indians infused leaves as
an emetic before breakfast, and to increase endurance and long wind
for runners, as well as using it for firewood. The Jemez Indians used
decoction of leaves as a cathartic (11). Sometimes used as an ornamental
1. Retrieved [November,
12, 2004], from the Integrated Taxonomic Information System on-line
2. Johnson, F.
L., and B. W. Hoagland. 1999. Catalog of the Woody Plants of Oklahoma:
Descriptions and Range Maps. (http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/shrub/dafo.htm).
University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Biological Survey, Norman, Oklahoma
3. McDougal, W.B. 1973. Seed Plants of Northern Arizona. The Museum
of Northern Arizona. Flagstaff, Arizona.
4. Epple, A. O. 1995. A Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona. Falcon
Publishing. Helena, Montana.
5. Kearney, T. H., R. H. Peebles, and collaborators. 1960. Arizona Flora
2nd Edition. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles,
6. Carter, J. L. 1997. Trees and Shrubs of New Mexico. Johnson Books,
7. Benson, L. and R. A. Darrow. 1981. Trees and Shrubs of the Southwestern
Deserts (3rd ed). University of Arizona Press, Tucson.
8. Elmore, F. H. 1976. Shrubs and Trees of the Southwest Uplands. Southwest
Parks and Monuments Association, Globe, Arizona.
9. Vines, R. A. 1960. Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of the Southwest.
University of Texas Press, Austin, Texas.
10. USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov).
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
11. Moerman, D. 2003. Native American Ethnobotany Database (http://herb.umd.umich.edu/).
University of Michigan, Dearborn, MI 48198 USA.