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Beach pea

Lathyrus japonicus


Vividly violet pea flowers.


Vine climbing over salal and driftwood just off the beach.


Warm, sunny weather brought these to flowering earlier than usual. Their pea pods can be eaten, but in excess a compound they contain can lead to lathyrism: literally the inability to get your butt in gear. It's a toxin of the mitochondria, targets motor neurons, and leads to the atrophy of the gluteus muscles. The seeds can be viable even after floating in sea water for 5 years, so their distribution is pretty much worldwide. Famines in some places apparently led to the discovery of the problem linked with consumption of this genus.

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Oregon, USA

Lat: 44.52, Long: -124.07

Spotted on May 1, 2015
Submitted on May 7, 2015


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