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  • Writer's pictureKristin Bailey Wilson

Partridge Pea and Your Cholesterol

Partridge Pea in bloom
Partridge Pea in bloom

Beans, beans the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot. Partridge pea or Chamaecrista fasciculata is a legume eaten by deer and birds. It's a favorite of quail, but I rarely hear quail anymore. I don't know if it helps the cholesterol level of animals, but humans shouldn't hope it'll lower their cholesterol. In fact, eat enough partridge pea and you're likely to have a stomach ache.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle and Partridge Pea Flower
Spotted Cucumber Beetle on a Partridge Pea Flower

I'm a lover of yellow flowers, so partridge pea is my groove. On the farm, it grows into little bushes 2 to 3 feet high and 1 1/2 to 2 feet wide. In my flower beds full of purchased dirt, it's a much smaller plant. It grows to about a foot and doesn't branch into the sturdy little bush shape it does at the farm. The flowers petals are bright yellow the a red zigzag in the center. I rarely take a picture of a flower that it doesn't include a bug, bee, or butterfly. The picture above has a spotted cucumber beetle in it. Ugh. The good with the bad, right?

Partridge pea
Partridge Pea growing in a field a native grass at the farm.
Green Partridge Pea seeds
Seeds too green to be viable.

It's an annual, so I'm collecting seeds for next year. You've got to wait until the seed pods are completely brown before you pick them. And if the seeds have any green left on them, you've picked too early. Make sure both sides of the pod are completely brown and the whole pod feels dry. This won't happen all at once. I find I'm pulling a few pods every few days. It's a process. :)

Mature Partridge Pea seed
Seeds ready to harvest.

I pull off all the brown pods I can find. Then I use my nail to open them and scrap the seeds into a container. All that happens like shelling dry beans, except that the seeds are slightly larger than sunflower seeds.

But sometimes you pull a pod at the top stem stays on the plant. The pod pops open in your hand. The two sides of shell twist into a spiral propelling the seeds onto the ground. You can hear it pop and see the seeds scatter. Immediately the spiraled shell is stiff and unbending. And if it's still hanging on the plant, it looks like a Christmas tree ornament.

Once you get your seeds home, store them in a dry, cool, and dark spot until you're ready to plant them. They're going need about two weeks of moist cold stratification. Growing native is fantastic because it takes a little more thought and planning. Partridge Peas are well-worth the trouble.


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