Strophostyles leiosperma (Trailing Pea)

Plant Info
Also known as: Slick-seed Fuzzybean, Small Fuzzy-bean, Smooth-seed Wild Bean
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry or moist sandy soil, upland woods, lake shores
Bloom season:August - September
Plant height:12 to 30 inch vine
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: round

[photo of flower] Cluster of 2 to 6 pink pea-shaped flowers on a slender hairy stalk arising from a leaf axil, the flower stalk longer than the adjoining leaf stalk. Only 1 or 2 flowers open at the same time, a cluster having both developing buds and mature pods present at the same time. Flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch wide, the upper petal (standard) with a decorative eyespot at the base, the lateral wings below it curve down and up along side the lower keel, which has a dark purplish horn-like projection much resembling that of a rhinocerus.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 3, on a slender hairy stalk. Leaflets are ¾ to 1½ inches long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, oblong to lance elliptic, rounded at the base but more tapered at the tip, toothless, sparsely hairy to hairless. The middle leaflet is stalked, laterals stalkless. Stems are slender and twining, covered in short fine hairs.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a slender cylindrical pod, 1 to 1¾ inches long, densely hairy when young, becoming smoother with maturity, ripening to a brownish gray with purplish marks.


Neither Trailing Pea or the closely related Wild Bean (Strophostyles helvola) are frequently encountered in general and when you do run across them it's likely just a random plant here or there. On the site where I've encountered this species its appearance from year to year is widely scattered over the area.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at Rice Creek Chain of Lakes, Anoka county.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Joanne - Hennepin County, Brooklyn Park
on: 2015-08-22 12:47:43

Waste area at edge of new residential construction--95th Way & Unity Lane. In sand, full sun but partly shaded by taller weeds. Flowers not really pink--more whitish but dried yellowish. Pods & flowers both present.

Posted by: Jason Osowski - Sherburne County - Zimmerman
on: 2020-08-26 08:27:30

I have ~10% coverage of this plant in my 1.5 acre prairie restoration. It was present before restoration and seems to be doing fine after site prep and installation. Interestingly it is quite prevalent.

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