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Beach pea

Lathyrus japonicus

Description:

Vividly violet pea flowers.

Habitat:

Vine climbing over salal and driftwood just off the beach.

Notes:

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

Reference

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