Slender Rush-pea (Hoffmannseggia tenella)

Photograph of the Slender Rush-pea


Texas Status
U.S. Status
Endangered, Listed 11/01/1985
Slender rush-pea is a perennial legume, 3-6 inches tall, with spreading stems. Leaves are twice compound, with 3-7 primary divisions each with 5-6 pairs of leaflets. The tiny leaflets are oblong, about 1/8 inch long, and slightly hairy on the under surface. Three to five salmon to orange-colored flowers, about 1/4 inch long, occur on each flowering stalk. Each flower has 5 egg-shaped petals and 10 stamens. Seed pods are straight, about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch wide, and densely covered with fine hairs.
Life History
The slender rush-pea is only known from Texas. Its tiny blooms are produced between early March and June, and sporadically thereafter depending on rainfall. It sometimes occurs in association with another endangered species, the south Texas 6 (Ambrosia cheiranthifolia).

The seed pods contain 2-4 seeds and mature during March to July. The tiny blooms of slender rush-pea are produced between early March and June, and sporadically thereafter depending on rainfall.

Slender rush pea may be particularly susceptible to competition from non-native grass species such as King Ranch bluestem, Kleberg bluestem, and bermuda grass. Consequently, mowing at a sufficient height and at appropriate times may not be detrimental to this species. Mowing that impacts the species during reproduction should be avoided. The use of herbicides for right-of-way maintenance poses a threat to this species. Conversion of coastal prairie habitat to other land uses is likely the most important factor contributing to the decline of slender rush-pea.
Slender rush-pea grows on clayey soil of blackland prairies and creek banks in association with short and midgrasses such as buffalograss, Texas wintergrass, and Texas grama. Woody plants such as mesquite, huisache, huisachillo, spiny hackberry, brasil, retama, lotebush, tasajillo, and prickly pear are also common at the known sites.
Historically, this plant is known only from Nueces and Kleberg counties, Texas. Today, this plant occurs in four populations in Nueces and Kleberg counties. One large population, discovered in 1985, consists of about 10,000 plants in a rural cemetery in southern Nueces county.
Slender rush-pea was listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in November 1985. Landowners and managers can help by learning to recognize this delicate legume and managing the site to maintain an open, diverse native plant community. Mowing and herbicide use should be carefully planned to avoid impacts to this species.

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