Over the Garden Gate: Partridge Pea attracts bees, butterflies and game birds – The Times

If you want to attract bees, butterflies and game birds to your garden, Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculate) is the plant for you!
This North American native is a re-seeding annual. It reaches 1-3 feet in height while blooming yellow flowers from July-September. It is sometimes called Sensitive Fern due to the way the fern-like leaves react when touched. Seed pods form mid-summer to late fall when they turn a beautiful reddish-brown. As its name implies, Partridge Pea is a member of the legume family. An added bonus comes when its decomposing roots add nutrients to the soil.
Not only will Partridge Pea attract bees, but it also hosts at least three different species of butterfly and is a food source for game birds. Caterpillars of the Little Orange, Cloudless Sulfur and Sleepy Orange Butterflies all feed on the foliage. Additionally, the seedpods provide food for game birds such as turkey, grouse and quail.
Partridge Pea is best planted directly in the ground from seed in April. Just scatter the seeds on prepared soil and press in place with your hands or feet. It does best in full sun with well-drained soil. Seeds can be ordered from various online seed companies that feature native plants. Just follow the directions on the seed packet.
Finally, if you would like to see Partridge Pea in bloom just visit the gardens at The Capt. William Vicary Mansion during the summer and follow the buzzing sound of the bees! The mansion is located at 1235 Third Ave. in Freedom, just above Route 65. From spring through fall, treat yourself to a self-guided tour of the historic herb and flower gardens maintained by Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Beaver County. Our volunteers can usually be found tending the gardens on Tuesday mornings.
More about the historic mansion, including hours and special events, is available through the Beaver County Historical Research & Landmarks Foundation (bchrlf.org).
If you have questions about Partridge Pea or any other garden matter, contact the Garden Hotline at beavermg@psu.edu. Attach a photo or two to your email to help us better answer your question.
Judy May is a Master Gardener with Penn State Extension, Beaver County.