Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Common Partridge-pea - Chamaecrista fasciculata   (Michaux) Greene
Members of Fabaceae:
Members of Chamaecrista with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Fabales » Family Fabaceae
Author(Michaux) Greene
DistributionNearly statewide, but seemingly absent from the northern Mountains; no records yet from several counties along the TN state line.

This is a very widespread species, occurring in most counties, from MA and southern MN on the north to the Gulf Coast (FL to TX) on the south.
AbundanceVery common across the Piedmont and essentially all of the Coastal Plain. Common in the southern Mountains, as well. One of the most often seen legume species in the state in the majority of counties.
HabitatThis is a very widely occurring species of edges and early succession habitats. It is often seen along wooded borders, roadsides and banks, weedy fields, vacant lots, and other disturbed sites.
See also Habitat Account for General Successional Fields and Forblands
PhenologyBlooms from June into September, and fruits from July into November.
IdentificationThis is a somewhat widely branched herb that grows to about 1.5-2 feet tall, with many pinnately-arranged leaves. Each leaf has about 24-30 (even number) of narrow leaflets, each leaflet about 2/3-inch long and barely 1/8-inch wide. In leaf axils grow a quite large bright to deep yellow flower, hardly looking at all like a pea/legume. Each of the 5 petals is somewhat similar to another, though the lower ones are larger; the flower averages about 1 inch across. The petals are somewhat in the same plane, and at the base of each is a rusty-red patch. The pods are about 2 inches long and fairly narrow. When in bloom, there is no similar plant, with the numerous large golden-yellow flowers on a bushy herb with pinnately-dissected leaves. However, the other NC species in the genus -- C. nictitans -- has very small flowers, but the vegetative parts of the plant are so similar that practically everyone must require flowers, or possibly the pods, for conclusive identifications. Though quite attractive in bloom, most people will quickly tire of seeing this species and will consider it almost a "weed".
Taxonomic CommentsIn much of the 20th Century, the species was named as Cassia fasciculata, but essentially all references now consider it in the genus Chamaecrista. There are several varieties, and the one in NC is the nominate C. fasciculata var. fasciculata.

Other Common Name(s)Often called simply Partridge Pea, but as there are several others in the genus also with "Partridge-pea" in the name, a modifier is needed. The common name of Sleepingplant used by NatureServe is bizarre. Sorrie (2011), Weakley (2018), and a few others do use Common Partridge-pea.
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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