Chamaecrista fasciculata

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: partridge pea 
Type: Annual
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Eastern, central, and southeastern United States
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Attracts: Birds, Butterflies
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil


Showy annual wild flower that is easily grown from seed in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Favors somewhat poor soils because of reduced competition from other plants. Spreads aggressively by self-seeding, particularly in dry open areas. Plant seeds late March to May.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chamaecrista fasciculate, commonly known by a large number of common names including partridge pea, prairie senna, golden cassia, large-flowered sensitive pea, sleeping plant, and locust weed, is a showy annual flower in the legume family that typically grows to 1-3’ tall. Shorter plants stand erect, but taller plants tend to sprawl. It is native to a variety of habitats including rocky open woods, upland slopes, ridges, bluffs, prairies, grasslands, rocky fields and open thickets in the eastern, mid-western and Great Plains sections of the U. S. from Massachusetts to South Dakota south to New Mexico and Florida.

Large, showy, yellow flowers (to 1” across) bloom from the upper leaf axils in short clusters (each to 2-6 flowers) from late June to September. Each flower has 5 rounded yellow petals and 10 stamens (6 red and 4 yellow). Flowers are borne on stems clad with alternate, pinnate-compound leaves, each leaf having 8-18 pairs of small, narrow, linear-oblong 2/3-inch long leaflets. Leaves will usually fold together (collapse) when touched giving rise to the common name of sensitive pea. Leaves are also sensitive to daylight, folding their leaflets in late afternoon each day as darkness approaches. Flowers give way to narrow, flattened, dehiscent seed pods (each to 2 1/2” long). Each pod is initially green but matures to brown before splitting open on both sides in fall to explosively expel the seeds within. Seeds are regularly consumed by birds. Plants provide cover for game birds and browse for deer. Flowers are a good nectar source for bees and butterflies.

Synonymous with and formerly known as Cassia chamaecrista and Cassia fasciculate.

Genus name come from the Greek words chamae meaning low growth and crista meaning crested.

Specific epithet means banded or bundled nerve fibers in reference to the sensitivity of the leaflets.


No serious insect or disease problems. Mildew and leaf spot may appear.


Popular long-flowering ornamental annual that is perfect for a naturalized setting or meadow where it can freely spread. Native gardens. Sometimes planted for erosion control to stabilize banks. Improves soil fertility (fixes nitrogen).