Showy Partridge Pea Chamaecrista fasciculata is an annual erect legume plant that reaches a height of 1 to 3 feet. The leaves consist of 10 to 16 pairs of small, narrow leaflets that are somewhat delicate to the touch. The showy yellow flowers, about 1 inch across, grow 2 to 4 together in clusters on the stem. Flowers normally bloom JulySeptember. The fruit is a straight, narrow pod 1½ to 2½ inches long, which splits along 2 sutures as it dries; the pod sides spiral to expel the seeds some distance from the parent plant. The highest seed production has been obtained under 30% shade, followed in decreasing order by 55% shade, full sunlight, and dense shade.
Established stands should be disked lightly in the spring to expose mineral soil on which the seed can germinate. Drill seeds at 1/4 to 3/4 inch deep at a rate of 10 lbs/ac pure live seed. If the seed is broadcast, increase seeding rate and cover seed by lightly disking or by cultipacking. Planting should be conducted late winter (March) to late spring (May) while soil moisture is still high. Germination is improved by scarification of the seed prior to planting. Seed should also be inoculated with the correct species of rhizobium before planting. Fertilizer should be applied at the recommended rate, based on soil samples, at time of planting.
Partridge pea usually reseeds but will gradually disappear without regular maintenance. Light disking to remove weeds, small brush, and old sod is necessary for healthy plantings or natural stands. In areas where prescribed burning is permitted, controlled fire is an excellent method for controlling unwanted vegetation. Fire or disking should be done in late winter for best results. Weeds can also be controlled during the growing season by mowing over the top of the partridge pea.