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Pickeringia montana var tomentosa.jpg
Pickeringia montana subsp. tomentosa

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Pickeringia
Species: P. montana
Binomial name
Pickeringia montana
Torr & A. Gray

See text.

  • Pickeringia Nutt.
    • Pickeringia montana var. tomentosa (Abrams) I. M. Johnst.
  • Xylothermia Greene
    • Xylothermia montana (Torr. & A. Gray) Greene
    • Xylothermia montana subsp. tomentosa Abrams

Pickeringia is a monotypic genus[1][2] of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It was recently assigned to the unranked, monophyletic Cladrastis clade.[3][4][5] It was named after the naturalist Charles Pickering. Its only species is Pickeringia montana, which is known by the common name chaparral pea. It is endemic to California in the United States, where its distribution extends along the Coast Ranges to the Peninsular Ranges, as well as along the Sierra Nevada foothills. It is also known from Santa Cruz Island.[6]

It is one of very few legumes native to the chaparral habitat. Its nitrogen-fixing ability helps it thrive in rocky, sandy soil. The plant is also well-suited to a landscape of hills, slopes, and recently burned areas; its roots spread quickly and help anchor loose soil, preventing erosion.


The chaparral pea rarely sprouts from seed. More often it sends up new stems from roots growing outward from the mother plant. It forms low, dense, thorny thickets of shiny dark green leaves. In spring and summer the plant blooms in bright magenta flowers. It bears pods containing pealike seeds.

There are two subspecies of chaparral pea:

  • Pickeringia montana subsp. montana is widespread in California.
  • Pickeringia montana subsp. tomentosa, sometimes called woolly chaparral pea, is limited to the hills of southern California.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ILDIS LegumeWeb entry for Pickeringia". International Legume Database & Information Service. Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  2. ^ USDA; ARS; National Genetic Resources Program. "GRIN species records of Pickeringia". Germplasm Resources Information Network—(GRIN) [Online Database]. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 12 February 2014.
  3. ^ Cardoso D, Pennington RT, de Queiroz LP, Boatwright JS, Van Wyk BE, Wojciechowski MF, Lavin M (2013). "Reconstructing the deep-branching relationships of the papilionoid legumes". S Afr J Bot. 89: 58–75. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.05.001.
  4. ^ Cardoso D, de Queiroz LP, Pennington RT, de Lima HC, Fonty É, Wojciechowski MF, Lavin M (2012). "Revisiting the phylogeny of papilionoid legumes: new insights from comprehensively sampled early-branching lineages". Am J Bot. 99 (12): 1991–2013. doi:10.3732/ajb.1200380. PMID 23221500.
  5. ^ Wojciechowski MF (2013). "The origin and phylogenetic relationships of the Californian chaparral 'paleoendemic' Pickeringia (Leguminosae)". Syst Bot. 38 (1): 132–142. doi:10.1600/036364413X662024.
  6. ^ Howard JL. 1992. Pickeringia montana. In: Fire Effects Information System. USDA FS. Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.

External links[edit]