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Thermopsis villosa (Walt.) Fern. & Schub.
Carolina bushpea, Aaron's rod, Bush pea
Synonyms: Thermopsis caroliniana
USDA Symbol: thvi
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
A 3-5 ft. perennial, unbranched or with a few, short, vegetative branches. Dense, terminal racemes, up to a foot long, bear many deep yellow flowers followed by hairy pods. The dark green leaves are trifoliate.
A striking legume with large, lupine-like flower spikes rising up to 5 feet in late spring through early summer, Carolina Bushpea is native only to forest openings in the Appalachians, but it is adaptable to rich garden soils throughout the eastern United States. It needs water during droughty summers.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Herb Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Leaf Complexity: Trifoliate Inflorescence: Raceme Flower:
Flower spikes 4 to 18 inches long.
1 to 2 inches Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Time: May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Yellow to pale cream in color.
AL , CT , GA , MA , ME , NC , NH , NJ , NY , PA , TN , VA , VT , WV Native Distribution:
Mountains of GA, AL, TN, NC, & WV: the southern Appalachians.
note: Discrepancy between sources about range of the plant, with some saying it occurs only in the southern Appalachians and others extending the range much farther north. Native Habitat:
Forest openings; mountain clearings USDA Native Status: L48(N)
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Drought Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Humus-rich, well-drained soil.
Conditions Comments: Water in the summer.
BenefitUse Ornamental: An excellent flower for tall, late spring color.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Root Division , Seeds Description:
Seeds can be sown outdoors upon collection or stored, treated and sown later. Mature plants may be divided in the fall but new divisions recover slowly. The problem is the deep roots which are broken when moved. Roots are so thick that it may take a hatchet to divide them. Seed Collection:
The mature, brownish legume pod
begins to split 5-6 weeks after the bloom period. Collect the pods and let them air-dry a few days before removing seeds. Store in sealed, refrigerated containers. Seed Treatment:
Germination of stored seed is more uniform if the seeds are presoaked in boiling water and allowed to cool in the water for at least twelve hours before planting. Can take up to 3 years to establish itself. Commercially Avail:
Keep other plants cleared away from it. It doesnt do well when crowded.
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Record Modified: 2009-01-31
Research By: TWC Staff