Partridge Pea (Chamaechrista fasciculata), a legume found throughout Missouri and much of the eastern United States. It is very common along road banks, ditches, and abandoned fields. Occasionally partridge pea is planted on purpose to aid in road bank erosion, as it grows rapidly and spreads profusely. This plant is insect pollinated by long tongued bees such as minor bees, bumble bees, honey bees, and large leaf-cutting bees.
Sometimes leaf-cutting bees will portion off parts of the petals to provision their brood nest with. Three sulphur butterflies use this plant for their host. You will likely find Little Sulphur, Sleepy Orange and Cloudless Sulphur caterpillars feasting on the foliage. Bobwhite quail and greater prairie chickens feed on the seed of this plant, the seeds are viable throughout the winter, so therefore they are an important part of these birds diet. Partridge Pea begins blooming in mid to late summer and blooms until the first frost. With sufficient moisture it will retain flowers throughout this entire time. The blooms are somewhat sensitive and will partially close when touched or disturbed.
If you raise cattle, be careful, this plant is toxic to cattle. The plant contains a cathartic substance that when consumed in substantial quantities can be stressful to cows and ultimately cause death. They like the flavor of this plant and they will readily consume it. It would be best to not grow this plant near livestock. Many Native American tribes recognized the benefit of this species of plant and used it in natural healing, the Seminoles used it to treat nausea. The Cherokee used it as a stimulant to ward off fainting spells as well as to keep sports players from tiring out.
Those of us who like to "grow native" utilize this beautiful plant within our gardens. It is easy to grow, attracts bees and butterflies and is pleasing to the eye.