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Lathyrus japonicus (Beach pea)

photo of beach pea
Copyright © 2006 Mary Jo Adams

 

The beach pea, a member of the legume or pea family, can be found among drift logs and other sandy areas of the backshore along the American West Coast from Alaska to California.  It is also present along the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Coast of the U.S., and in Chile, and Japan.  In the Pacific Northwest it is a native species and flowers from May until September.  Flower colors range from light blue to dark purple.  The compound leaf is made up of 6-12 leaflets, there are two triangular leaf-like structures (stipules) at the base of the compound leaf, and there are tendrils at the leaf tips.  Other common names for this species are sea pea and sand pea.  Lathyrus japonicus has also been known under the scientific name L. maritimus.  A similar species, Lathyrus littoralis, is found along the open coast.  Its leaves are very hairy, the flowers are pink or white, and there are no tendrils on the leaves.  

 

This page was created by Mary Jo Adams on 8/22/06.

 

 

photo of beach pea flowers

photo of beach pea tendrils

photo of beach pea stipules

 

photo of beach pea pods