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Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest

Partridge pea

  • Cassia fasciculata, Chamaecrista fasciculata

Forb

Brood coverFood
Flowers

Flowers are about 1 inch across, with reddish-purple bases.

©Don Kurz


Compound leaves and bright yellow flowers

Compound leaves and bright yellow flowers make this plant readily identifiable.

Jennifer Anderson, USDA-NRCS Plants Database

Seedpods

Seedpods are reddish brown and flattened, 1-1/2 to 2 inches long.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation

Leaves are compound

Leaves are compound, rather than trilobed as in most legumes.

©Don Kurz

Seeds

Seeds are brown, flattened and rather square. (scale divisions = 1mm)

Fred Fishel, University of Missouri

Description

This annual legume is a staple in seed mixes for small game. It thrives in sandy soils and responds well to soil disturbance and burning. Partridge pea grows up to 3 feet tall (more commonly 12 to 18 inches) and has compound, alternate leaves. Leaflets are relatively small, less than 1 inch long. Flowers are bright yellow with reddish-purple bases, about 1 inch across. Ripened seedpods are red-brown and often shatter explosively when touched or squeezed, throwing seeds a considerable distance.

Bloom period

June to October

Use by bobwhites

Partridge pea seeds show up in numerous food habit studies in the south, but rarely in the Midwest. This may be because southeastern growth forms are shorter and bushier than Midwest plants or because the seed may be more apt to fall on exposed ground in southern woods than on grassy prairie soils. Nevertheless, it is a good plant to include for diversity in planting mixtures and is relatively cheap. Like Illinois bundleflower, its presence is a good indicator of brood habitat because it readily appears after burns, disking or grazing. When partridge pea begins to decrease in fields where it was prevalent, it is probably time to consider some kind of disturbance to reinvigorate the stand.


 

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MP903 Quail-Friendly Plants of the Midwest | Page 37 | University of Missouri Extension