Tangier Pea

June 22, 2015

Tangier Pea

June 22, 2015
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Hello Monday. Here is a Tangier Pea (Lathyrus tingitanus), a species of wild pea. An annual herb, native to Southern Europe and North Africa and introduced to the Pacific Northwest. I found this one and many more all over Santa Cruz Mountains. The Tangier Pea produces a winged stem that climbs by coiled tendrils. It has 2 or 3 pea flowers in varying shades of red and up to 3 cm wide. This species of wild pea seems to be cultivated as a garden plant grown for its fragrance (though it seems odorless) and looks. In Australia, it is considered a common weed and invasive by some areas.

Other species of wild pea are grown for food such as the Lathyrus stivus, grown in Asia and East Africa. It does well in areas prone to drought and famine. The seeds contain a neurotoxin that causes neurodegenerative disease, paralysis of lower limbs and wasting of the buttocks, when consumed as a primary protein for prolonged period. Yikes!

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