Partridge Pea: A New Wildflower Attraction

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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