Wild Guide: Showy Partridge Pea

By MDC | September 1, 2022
From Missouri Conservationist: September 2022

Showy Partridge Pea

Chamaecrista fasciculata

Showy partridge pea is an annual that typically occurs in fields, pastures, along roadsides and railroads, as well as glades, upland prairies, openings in upland forests, savannas, ledges and tops of bluffs, and banks of streams and rivers. Its five-petaled yellow flowers, tinged with red at the base, bloom from July through October. The fruits of showy partridge pea are legumes that are 1–2½ inches long and turn black when they mature. Because showy partridge pea is in the bean family, these are literally bean pods. When mature and dry, the pod turns black and the two sides separate suddenly, flinging the seeds away.

Did You Know?

Like other members of the bean family, showy partridge pea exhibits nyctinasty, meaning the plant closes its leaflets at night. This characteristic is thought to be an adaptation to control water loss or offer protection from herbivores.

Photo of showy partridge pea showing flowers, buds, and leaves.

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