showy partridge pea

(Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata)

Conservation Status
showy partridge pea
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Showy partridge pea is a 4 to 36 tall, erect, annual forb that rises on one or a few stems from a taproot.

The stems are erect or ascending, slender, and light green at first, becoming reddish brown as the season progresses. They are occasionally branched at or above the middle. They are sparsely to moderately covered with short, spreading or curled, upward-pointing hairs. The stems are weak and taller (longer stemmed) plants often sprawl.

The leaves are alternate and 2 to 3½ long. They are sensitive to touch, and will fold longitudinally when disturbed. They are on 2 to 3 long leaf stalks (petioles). Near the middle of the petiole, on the upper surface, there is a 1 32to 116 in diameter, usually stalked, saucer-shaped gland. The gland is a nectary and attracts insects. At the base of the petiole there is a pair of small, green, leaf-like appendages (stipules). The stipules are narrowly lance triangular, asymmetrical, ¼ to long, and 1 32to 116 wide. They are long tapered at the tip and have several prominent, parallel veins. They remain on the plant throughout the growing season. The leaf blades are pinnately divided into 5 to 18 pairs of leaflets.

The leaflets are narrowly oblong to oblong, to ¾ long, and 116 to 3 16wide. They are stalkless, asymmetrical at the base, and taper abruptly to a sharp or blunt point at the tip. A minute, stiff, hair-like extension of the midvein (mucro) projects from the tip. The upper surface is green and hairless. The lower surface is green, hairless, and somewhat covered with a whitish, waxy coating (glaucous). The margins are untoothed but have a fringe of short, spreading hairs.

The inflorescence is a cluster of 1 to 3 flowers rising from the stem near but not in the leaf axils. Normally, only 1 flower is open at a time. Each flower is on a to long stalk.

The flowers are 1 to 1¼ in diameter and asymmetrical in appearance. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 10 stamens, and 1 style. The sepals are green, linear to lance-shaped, sharply pointed, to ½ long, and 1 16 to wide. The petals are yellow, reddish at the base, broadly egg-shaped, unequal in size, narrowed at the base (clawed), to ¾ long, and 5 16to 1116 wide. One of the lateral petals curves around the stamens. There are 9 short stamens grouped on one side of the style and 1 large stamen on the opposite side. The anthers are purple and ¼ to long. The style is greenish-white, about long, and curved.

The fruit is a flattened, 1¼ to 2 long, 3 16to ¼ wide seed pod with 4 to 20 seeds. The seed pods are straight, not twisted. They are green and hairy at first, becoming dark brown and hairless at maturity. When mature the seed pods fling the seeds a good distance from the plant.




4 to 36


Flower Color




Similar Species


Dry to moderate moisture. Prairies, savannas, meadows, railroads, roadsides, open disturbed areas. Full sun.




July to September




Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 28.









  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Fabales (legumes, milkworts, and allies)  


Fabaceae (peas, legumes)  
  Subfamily Caesalpinioideae  
  Tribe Cassieae  
  Subtribe Cassiinae  
  Genus Chamaecrista (sensitive pea)  
  Species Chamaecrista fasciculata (showy partridge pea)  



Cassia brachiata

Cassia chamaecrista

Cassia fasciculata

Cassia fasciculata var. brachiata

Cassia fasciculata var. depressa

Cassia fasciculata var. ferrisiae

Cassia fasciculata var. puberula

Cassia fasciculata var. robusta

Cassia fasciculata var. rostrata

Cassia fasciculata var. tracyi

Cassia mississippiensis

Cassia robusta

Cassia rostrata

Chamaecrista brachiata

Chamaecrista depressa

Chamaecrista littoralis

Chamaecrista mississippiensis

Chamaecrista robusta

Chamaecrista rostrata

Chamaecrista tracyi


Common Names


golden cassia



partridge pea

prairie senna

showy partridge pea














The upper angle where a branch, stem, leaf stalk, or vein diverges.



A stalk-like narrowed base of some petals and sepals.



Pale green or bluish gray due to a whitish, powdery or waxy film, as on a plum or a grape.



Tipped with a short, sharp, abrupt point.



A tissue or organ which produces nectar, usually at or near the base of the inside of a flower.



The stalk of a leaf blade or compound leaf that attaches the leaf blade to the stem.



Having the leaflets of a compound leaf arranged on opposite sides of a common stalk.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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  Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)
Bill Keim
  Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)  



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Other Videos
  Nature in a Minute, Episode 7 - Partridge Pea
Kevin Mims

Uploaded on Sep 19, 2011

A look at Partridge Pea, a wildflower that attracts quail, turkeys, and lots of butterflies. Check out the Cloudless Sulphur caterpillar in the video, too.

  Partridge Pea

Published on Sep 6, 2013

Partridge Pea

  Partidge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)
Mike Cush

Published on Aug 19, 2013

Information about Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata). I am the owner of Natural Gardens specializing in Michigan Native Plants, Butterfly and Wildlife gardens. I am also a member of Wildflowers Association of Michigan (WAM) and Wild Ones (North Oakland chapter). Please feel free to send me questions.

  Chamaecrista fasciculata Partridge Pea

Published on Sep 5, 2012

A regional native member of the legume family Fabaceae.

  Partridge Pea - Native pollinator plant

Uploaded on Jun 1, 2010

Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) Native wildflower found through out the South east of N. America. Butterflies and pollinators love it. It is self-seeding, pretty and drought-tolerant. A great plant for yards.




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