|Radnor Lake from the trail|
|Senna marilandica with its nearly square seed pods|
Like Southern Wild Senna. It's thriving at Radnor Lake and the Bumble Bees love it. The wildflower literature says that it's found growing in large stands in moist open woods, fields and cedar glades throughout Tennessee and the Eastern US. While I do like this legume~and those cool seedpods~it might need more moisture than Clay and Limestone can provide.
|S obtusifolia is aka Sicklepod|
|A small planting at the visitor center|
|A very large and happy stand at Bison Meadows.|
Partridge Pea is an annual that grows about three foot tall. The small paired leafletsare light sensitive and close at night. The showy yellow and red flowers are small and grow in clusters on the stem. It's in bloom late summer through early Fall. I've not seen the fruit, but, it's described as a straight, narrow pod 1½ to 2½ inches long, which splits along 2 sutures as it dries; the pod sides spiral to expel the seeds some distance from the parent plant. I always wondered why seed pods of legumes were twisted!
It grows in dense stands, as seen above at Bison Meadows and the decaying stalks provide covering for birds, small mammals and waterfowl. It's a known honey plant, often occurring where few other honey plants are found. Nectar is not available in the flowers of showy partridge pea but is produced by small orange glands at the base of each leaf. Ants often seek the nectar and are frequent visitors. (see photo below for visiting ant) The common sulfur butterfly lays its eggs on the leaves, and the larvae use the leaves as a food source. (source)
While it is a wonderful plant for erosion control, looks spectacular in flower, feeds critters, provides habitat, fixes nitrogen, has low water needs once established there is one caveat~partridge pea foliage is nutritious, but, it can be poisonous and should be considered potentially dangerous to cattle.
This post was written by Gail Eichelberger for my blog Clay and Limestone Copyright 2011. This work protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.