Could someone identify this plant?

Asked August 12, 2015, 6:54 PM EDT

This is taking over my backyard, which is adjacent to woods. Juniper was planted before I bought my house in 2006 - it has survived but never grown much and is now being surrounded by whatever this is. Have not noticed it until this season. Is it native? Invasive? I'm willing to let it do its thing unless I could come to regret that. Any advice much appreciated.

Sussex County Delaware

6 Responses

This looks like it might be Caragana, common name Pea Shrub. It is a native of Siberia and was widely planted in the Mid-west as a wind-break and a means of managing erosion. The USDA distribution map shows that it is found in Maryland though is not noted in Delaware. It is recently been considered invasive in some Mid-western states. It is classed as a shrub or small tree that could grow to 20'. It spreads by seed and root system, which can be extensive. All this having been said, I am still not certain that this identification is correct as the flowers appear in May and June and I am assuming that the picture you supplied was taken more recently. So, I have some questions: When did you take the picture? Did you observed flowers in May and June? Do you see the development of pea-like structures on the stems now? Have you observed large shrub or tree-like plants with similar leaves at the edge of your woodland? Has the soil in the area where this plants are now growing been disturbed in the last couple of years?

Thank you so much for your reply. The photo was taken on August 12, so quite recent. The leaves are fernlike - more photos below taken just now. The height is now about 12" - seems to be growing rapidly and spreading across the ground. I do not observe a shrub-like structure - more like ground cover spread. Starts as individual stalk. I haven't gone deep into the woods behind our house but from the border, I don't see any. I am guessing that flowers did not appear in May - more like July. I am including photos taken today, 8/17. Thanks for any ideas you might have about what this is. I checked out Pea Shrub photos but those leaves do not look fern-like to me. For now, I'll keep referring to it as Mystery Plant!

One more 8/17/2015 photo

To answer your question about the soil - which is mostly sand, btw - it would have been disturbed about 5 years ago when we installed a small shed around which the plant in question is growing as it spreads across backyard. Where it is growing has not been disturbed, however, unless you count removing small holly trees that pop up all over the place to aid the juniper. We have pretty much given up on the juniper - it's still there but hard to keep up with clearing around it and now, with this latest incursion, kind of impossible. Photo below taken 8/12 shows shed and rapid growth of Mystery Plant.

OK. This is Partridge Pea (Cassia Fasciculata) a desirable plant for naturalizing disturbed spaces and meadows. It is a self-seeding native annual and valuable food source for pollinators and birds as well as providing cover for small woodland animals. I suggest that you let it do its thing. For a full description see and

Thank you so much for this prompt and most helpful response!