Purple prairie clover, a member of the Fabaceae (Bean) family, is slender, erect, and has wiry stems which arise from a short vertical taproot that is highly branched. The alternate leaves have three to five leaflets which are much narrower and closer together than those of White prairie clover. The inflorescence is a firm cylindric spike of crowded, small, purple flowers with five protruding bright orange-yellow anthers.

Purple prairie clover usually blooms late spring through summer and is frequently found in dry to mesic prairies. Used by Native Americans to brew tea.