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Chaparral Pea Pickeringia montana


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Chaparral Pea - flower
credit: randomtruth/CCSA

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Alternate name: Stingaree-bush

Family: Fabaceae, Pea view all from this family

Description A spiny dark green shrub, often forming impenetrable thickets, with bright reddish-lavender "pea flowers" near the ends of branches.
Habit: native perennial shrub; much-branched.
Height: 3-10 ft (1-3 m)
Leaf: usually trifoliate, evergreen, usually trifoliate (rarely simple); 1 or 3 leaflets, elliptic to ovate, stalkless, 0.3-0.6 in (8-15 mm) long.
Flower: small, bright pink to reddish-purple, to 0.75 in (2 cm) long.
Fruit: narrow, oblong pod, straight, indented between seeds, 1-2.5 in (3-6 cm) long, to 0.2 in (5 mm) wide; usually 6-10 seeds.

Flower May to August.

Habitat Dry hillsides in chaparral, open woodlands, washes; usually below 5600 ft (1700 m); sometimes cultivated as an ornamental or for erosion control.

Range Central to southern California.

Discussion The only species in a genus confined to California, Chaparral Pea contributes to the state's unique flora. Rarely reproducing from seed, it grows new stems from roots that spread, especially after fires. It is sometimes called Montana chaparral pea even though it is endemic to California. Two varieties are recognized. Chaparral pea is important browse for black-tailed deer.