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PARTRIDGE PEA Cassia fasciculata

God, in His creative genius, lovingly has blessed us with many delightful nourishing “goodies.” Note the pledge of Isaiah, “I will give thanks to Thy name; for Thou hast worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness” (Isaiah 25:1).

In Nebraska, where I lived until age 13, the choice honey comes from the nectar of the tall yellow sweet clover. In Appalachia, the most valued source is the sourwood, while in north Georgia it is apple blossom and in Florida it is orange blossom. True connoisseurs of honey know these differences and discriminately select honey because only the best varieties deserve the privilege of gracing fresh hot biscuits on our tables.

Seriously, this area of Georgia has many sources of nectar for honey bees. We have some apple blossoms, peach blossoms, clover, and in Rockdale County we have Georgia’s largest sourwood tree. However, the greatest sources in this area are several varieties of legumes, that is, plants in the Pea Family. That brings us to today’s bloom, a nectar-bearing wildflower that is present from July until fall.

PARTRIDGE PEA

Cassia fasciculata

The partridge pea plant is heavily branched and may reach as high as 3 feet when in a crowded habitat. Otherwise, when this annual is scattered, it spreads over the ground like a woody vine.

The deep yellow flowers measure about 1 inch wide but do not have that familiar keel-shaped protrusion of the pea family. The flowers may have from five to seven petals and the length of each may vary widely.

The most noticeable characteristic is the configuration of the leaves as illustrated in the sketch. Partridge pea leaves may have from six to as many as 26 pairs of leaflets. Such a wide variation is unusual in the wildflower kingdom where orderliness is the rule.

This yellow flower commonly grows in swampy areas, along wooded creeks and at the edges of woods where the soil is moist. This means that areas blessed with showers will probably provide the moisture needed for this wildflower while areas without showers will miss the blessing of this wildflower.

May you find beauty and harmony in nature as you endure the chaos of human affairs, and may your biscuits always be drenched with the best honey!

This leads us to join the psalmist again, “I will give thanks to Thy name; for Thou hast worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness” (Isaiah 25:1).

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com.

Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.