Chamaecrista fasciculata (Partridge Pea)
|Also known as:||Showy Partridge Pea|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry sandy soil; prairies, open woods, disturbed soil|
|Bloom season:||July - September|
|Plant height:||12 to 30 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Racemes of 2 to 7 flowers arising from leaf axils. Flowers are 1 to 1½ inch across, with 5 rounded petals of unequal size, often a single lower one largest, the other 4 similar size with red blotches at base, opening somewhat haphazardly givng them an irregular appearance and shape. The 10 stamens are long and slender, deep maroon colored and vary greatly in length, the longest up to 1/3 inch. The style is longer than the stamens, green, slender, and curved. Sepals are narrow and sharp, a little over half the length of the petals.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are compound with 5 to 18 pairs of linear-oblong leaflets, each ½ to ¾ inch long, toothless, minutely hairly around the edges, rounded or with an abrupt minute point at the tip. The leaf stalk has a small saucer shaped gland near the base that attracts insects. A pair of leafy appendages (stipules) are attached at the leaf joint, generally triangular with a sharp point at the tip. While not a reliably common occurence, under certain conditions leaves can fold up after being touched. Stems are hairless or with short flattened hairs, growing erect when young and tending to sprawl as they grow and branch.
Notes:Partridge Pea is an early pioneer species on sandy disturbed sites, producing dense stands for a few years until later successional grasses and forbs establish. It can make a good cover crop in restorations, helping to hold the soil and crowd out weeds until deeper rooted perennials take over. This species was formerly known as Cassia fasciculata and is more typically classified as a member of the pea family (Fabaceae), though the DNR lists it as in the senna family (Caesalpiniaceae).
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in a private garden in Washington County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in a restored prairie in Anoka county.
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