Native Plant of the Week: Partridge Pea ~ Chamaecrista fasciculata (Cassia)

Other Common Names: Showy Partridgepea, Sensitive Pea

This annual legume is a great native for sunny, dry locations. We planted Partridge Pea a couple of years ago and it reseeds a few plants each year.

The yellow flowers bloom out of the leaf axils on a short stem. The flower has yellow as well as bright red anthers which make it even more showy.

The leaves are a compound leaf with 8-15 leaflet pairs. The foliage resembles that of a Mimosa species.

Partridge Pea flowers from mid July through September. It can reach 30 inches in height.

This plant was favored by early ranchers for its livestock palatability and soil improvement qualities (nitrogen fixation). It disappeared from heavily grazed ranges but found itself a niche in old fields or disturbed areas in sandy soil.

The seed is produced in long pods and once dry the pods explode and shoot the seed several feet from the parent plant.

Partridge Pea and other Chamaecrista species are major foodplants (larval hosts) for several Sulphur and Yellow Butterflies.

This photo is of Eurema lisa ~ Little Yellow Butterfly laying eggs on Chamaecrista hebecarpa ~ Wild Senna.

Partridge Pea is native to the US from the Dakotas south to Texas and eastwards.

Seed is available from Prairie Moon Nursery.