Chamaecrista fasciculata is an annual that grows in poor sandy or gravely soil. It forms large stands if happy and you can count on blooms for several months. It has attractive blue-green pinnate leaves and showy flowers that are a brilliant yellow with a red blotch at the base and dark red anthers. The flowers grow in the leaf axils all along the sprawling stem.
It first caught my eye at Radnor Lake, growing on a hill off the Lake Trail in dry soil and high shade. A few weeks later I spotted it at Bison Park, a little mini prairie in a nearby neighborhood. When I wrote about it back in 2011, I thought for sure it would be an easy plant to establish. Friends sent me seeds, but they didn't grow. Nothing happened until I got serious and ordered seeds from Prairie Moon Nursery. What I learned was that Partridge Pea like other members of the Pea Family, harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia on their roots and with out the bacteria they just won't grow. PMN includes the inoculum with Partridge Pea seeds. The seeds arrived with their inoculum and following the nursery's instructions, were inoculated prior to planting them last fall*.
|flowers, buds and seed capsules|
|Bumbles busily work the flowers in the early morning.|
|Extrafloral nectaries along the stem|
Nectares are nectar-secreting glandular organ in a flower (floral) or on a leaf or stem (extrafloral). Our Wildflower Wednesday star has ENFs that are loaded with nectar and very attractive to ants and other pollinators. It keeps getting cooler.
|Don't you think the ferny leaves are a great backdrop to those bright yellow flowers?|
- long bloom season
- pollinator magnet
- pretty flowers
- ferny leaves that add texture to a garden bed
- host plant for butterfly caterpillars. Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars will feed on both the Partridge Pea’s leaves and its flowers. You can tell which the caterpillar concentrated on by its color, which may be yellow or green.
- ecologically valuable
|Cloudless sulfur butterfly caterpillar|
Common Name: Partridge Pea, sleeping plant, showy partridge pea, prairie senna, large-flowered sensitive-pea, dwarf cassia, partridge pea senna, locust weed, golden cassia.
Botanical Name: Chamaecrista fasciculata
Annual: plant in fall with appropriate inoculant
Range: native to the Southeast and throughout much of the U.S. east of the Rockies.
Light Requirements: Full Sun, Half Sun / Half Shade
Flower Color: Yellow with a touch of red
Height: 24-36" tall
Bloom Time: July and I hope into the fall
Fruit: 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!
Host Plant: Cloudless Sulphur, Sleepy Orange, and Little Yellow, Ceraunus Blue and Gray Hairstreak caterpillars. A good nectar source that also attracts many pollinators in addition to butterflies. (source)
Comments: It's used in the USA for cover cropping, ornate flowers in native gardens, honey crop, as an annual reseeding legume for restoration and conservation plantings, and wildlife food. Its seeds are a favorite food for many birds, including bobwhite quail and endangered prairie chickens, it provides cover for wildlife, is a pioneer plant in poor and disturbed areas, improving soils as a nitrogen fixer. It grows in dense stands and the decaying stalks provide covering for birds, small mammals and waterfowl.
What ever it's called in your neck of the woods, this fabulous Fabaceae has excellent wildlife value...Not bad for an annual!
Thanks for stopping by to help celebrate Wildflower Wednesday. Btw, *I've written about Prairie Moon Nursery before Some catalogs are better than others do check it out.
Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers all over this great big beautiful world. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. I hope you join the celebration...It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.