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The partridge pea is a leguminous plant of the family Fabaceae, indigenous to North America.This wildflower provides bright summer color, and the flowers attract bees and butterflies. Seed pods are eaten by gamebirds and songbirds, and the plant provides excellent cover for gamebirds and browse for deer. Leaves collapse when touched, giving rise to the common name Sensitive-plant. Like other members of the pea family, Partridge-pea requires the presence of microorganisms that inhabit nodules on the plant's root system and produce nitrogen compounds necessary for the plant's survival.
Partridge Pea's yellow flowers with deep-red stamens are not only a cheery summer plant, but are great favorites of bees and other pollinators. The plant’s visual appeal is enhanced by its symmetrical foliage, with blue-green leaves oppositely arranged in groups of 8-15 pairs. The leaves retreat when touched so another name that may be used is Sensitive Plant. These leaves are the larval host for the Little Yellow, Sleepy Orange and Orange Sulfur butterflies. Partridge Pea is an annual and a legume so fixes soil nitrogen and forms attractive maroon seed pods in the fall, from which it readily self-seeds in medium to dry soils, growing to 2’ in height.
These seed pods are excellent food for game birds and songbirds that spend the winter with us. It is native to much of the eastern half of the US. It was formerly called Cassia fasciculata. Species of genus Chamaecrista are legumes. Most legume species harbor beneficial bacteria called rhizobia on their roots. Genus-specific strains of this bacterium called inoculum can aid in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen and improve long-term health of native plant communities. Inoculum is naturally-occurring in most soils and additional amendment is usually not needed. However, in low fertility soils it may be necessary.February 13 Could Partridge Pea be used as a cover crop for a native garden and rain garden that cannot be planted til the spring of 2020? Can you suggest other native plants that could be used as cover crops. Public Works will be doing the dig and build, but we have no idea when. (Source: www.prairiemoon.com)