The glorious summer wildflowers in Eliza Howell Park continue to bloom for many weeks, but the exact make up of the blooming species changes constantly.
Since the beginning of August, I am finding myself drawn to a small flowering plant that has just begun to bloom, the Partridge Pea.
I am currently aware of only one patch, a patch of 30 or more Patridge Pea flowers scattered among other plants.
By comparison with some very tall plants found among the meadow flowers, Partridge Pea is a quite small species; the ones in Eliza Howell now 1 stand betweeen 1 and 2 feet high.
What I find most attractive is the showy 1-inch flower. It has 5 bright yellow rounded petals that vary in size and several stamens with a touch of red. It invites me to get down low for a close-up view.
The Partridge Pea is more than just a pretty face, however.
It is a good source of nectar that provides food for different pollinators. This week it is being visited most frequently by bumblebees.
A legume native to Eastern North America, it is a host plant for the caterpillars of several butterflies, including Sulphurs.
Clouded Sulphur (pictured here) is a common butterfly in Eliza Howell.
One of the reasons that I am fascinated by the Partridge Pea that I am now seeing is that I do not recall observing it in the park in previous years. Perhaps the numbers are greater this year, making it more noticeable. Regardless, I an now very conscious of it and will be watching it as the summer flower season continues.
For me, it is a new star attraction.