Chamaecrista fasciculata

partridge pea, sleepingplant, showy partridgepea, sensitive plant, locust-weed


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Type

compound, pinnate

Growth Form


Flower Color


Flower Month

May - November

Height (meters)

0.2 - 1.2

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Wetland Class


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

A forb to 1.5 m tall with yellow, pea-like flowers, pinnately compound leaves and 8 cm long, flat legume. A similar species, Cassia nictitans (sensitive partirdgepea), is a small-flowered species that is common along the Gulf Coast. It has flowers that are much smaller than those of C. fasiciculata and its flowers have 5 stamens rather than the 10 found in C. fasiciculata.

Cultural Information

In an experiment conducted by the author, freshly harvested seeds were planted in the greenhouse in sterile media with 80 F bottom heat. Seed germination averaged 70%. Nichols (1934), however, got only 18% germination from seeds planted in the greenhouse in the fall following collection. He found stratification to be of no benefit. The seed pods should be collected before ripe (seeds are ejected) and stored in paper bags. The pods will open when ripe and those that do not can be crushed with hands. There are 65,600 - 90,000 seed/lb. and the recommended planting rate is 20-30 lbs/acre. The seeds benefit from cold/moist stratification, scarification, and innoculation with EL rhizobium before planting (Shirley 1994, Steffen 1997).

Animal Use

Desirable to cattle as forage. Larval host plant for the cloudless sulphur, little yellow, and hairstreak butterflies. The following Information is for the genus Chamaecrista with note that C. fascilculata and C. procumbens are most common and important in the southeastern United States: Animals that eat its seeds: Greater prairie chicken, Bobwhite quail. Animals that eat the plant: White-tailed deer (Martin et al. 1951). Charles Robertson (1928): (Long-tongued bees collect pollen & are the only effective pollinators; short-tongued bees collect stray pollen or suck petiolar nectar; flies feed on stray pollen or suck petiolar nectar; other insects suck petiolar nectar only; most observations are from Robertson, otherwise they are from Moure & Hurd and LaBerge as indicated below) Visit flowers for pollen: Bees (long-tongued) Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus fq, Bombus fraternus, Bombus griseocallis fq, Bombus impatiens, Bombus pensylvanica fq, Bombus vagans; Anthophoridae (Anthophorini): Anthophora walshii olg; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Florilegus condigna, Melissodes bimaculata bimaculata, Melissodes communis, Melissodes comptoides fq, Svastra atripes atripes fq olg; Megachilidae (Megachilini): Megachile brevis brevis fq cpt, Megachile latimanus, Megachile mendica, Megachile petulans, Megachile texana fq Bees (short-tongued) Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon sericea, Agapostemon texanus texanus, Augochloropsis metallica metallica, Lasioglossum pilosus pilosus, Lasioglossum versatus Flies Syrphidae: Milesia virginiensis Visit petiolar nectaries: Bees (short-tongued) Halictidae (Halictinae): Augochlorella aurata, Lasioglossum imitatus fq, Lasioglossum pectoralis, Lasioglossum tegularis, Lasioglossum versatus fq, Lasioglossum zephyrus Wasps Sphecidae (Astatinae): Astata unicolor; Sphecidae (Bembicinae): Nysson rufiventris, Synnevrus aurinotus fq, Zanysson plesia; Sphecidae (Crabroninae): Crossocerus lentus, Enoplolindenius robertsoni, Oxybelus emarginatus, Oxybelus frontalis; Sphecidae (Larrinae): Liris argentata, Lyroda subita, Tachysphex acuta, Tachysphex belfragei fq, Tachysphex mundus, Tachysphex tarsata, Tachytes chrysopyga, Tachytes intermedius, Tachytes mergus, Tachytes pepticus; Sphecidae (Pemphredoninae): Pluto tibialis; Sphecidae (Philanthinae): Cerceris kennicotti, Cerceris rufinoda; Sphecidae (Sphecinae): Chalybion californicus, Chlorion aerarius, Sceliphron caementaria; Vespidae (Eumeninae): Euodynerus foraminatus; Pompilidae: Ageniella arcuatus, Anoplius nigritus, Cryptocheilus terminatus, Entypus fulvicornis, Poecilopompilus interrupta, Priocnemis pretiosa; Tiphiidae: Tiphia illinoensis, Tiphia intermedia; Mutillidae: Dasymutilla macra, Timula sayi, Timula vagans fq; Chrysididae: Chrysis inaequidens, Chrysis intricata, Chrysis montana, Holopyga ventrale; Perilampidae: Perilampus hyalinus; Braconidae: Rhygoplitis terminalis Ants Formicidae: Camponotus castanea, Formica fusca, Formica schaufussi fq, Lasius niger fq Flies Tabanidae: Tabanus lineola; Syrphidae: Syritta pipiens, Toxomerus marginatus, Toxomerus politus; Conopidae: Thecophora occidensis; Tachinidae: Chaetoplagia atripennis, Senotainia rubriventris; Calliphoridae: Helicobia rapax; Muscidae: Neomyia cornicina; Platystomatidae: Rivellia quadrifasciata; Chloropidae: Thaumatomyia glabra Plant Bugs Miridae: Lygus lineolaris Visitation Type Unspecified: Bees (short-tongued) Halictidae (Halictinae): Agapostemon splendens (MH), Augochloropsis sumptuosa (MH), Lasioglossum bruneri (MH); Halictidae (Nomiinae): Nomia nortoni nortoni (MH); Colletidae (Colletinae): Colletes mandibularis (LB)

Natural History

Occurs on sandy loam soils in central and eastern United States, from Massachusetts to Florida and west to South Dakota and New Mexico. It normally grows in old fields, ditches and disturbed areas but will grow in prairie where the stand is open enough for invasion. In years of normal rainfall it often flowers continuously throughout the growing season. Chamaecrista fasciculata is nutritious and readily eaten by livestock. However, because it is a summer annual it is not normally available on well managed range. It is considered an important honey crop in some areas of the south where it is often the only nectar plant available during the summer. The nectar is obtained, not from the flowers but from extrafloral nectaries located at the base of the petiole. Ants can often be seen harvesting nectar from these nectaries. It is often used as a soil builder on crop land and is planted as wildlife food (see below).


Open woodlands, prairie, plains, meadows, pastures and savannas.