Crimson Pea (Lathyrus clymenum)

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Description Crimson Pea belongs to the Family Fabaceae.  It is a herbaceous species and the stem can reach up to one meter in height.  The lower leaves are linear and lanceolate in shape, without leaflets.  The upper leaves consist of two to four pairs of linear elliptical leaflets.  The flowers are crimson or purple-red, with violet or lilac wings; occasionally they may be pale yellow.  Each group of one to five flowers form clusters.  The fruit is pod shaped and it is brown and hairless, with a groove on the upper side.  Crimson Pea was formerly grown as a fodder crop (1).  One of the characteristics of this genus is that the seeds contain a toxic amino acid which, in large quantities, can cause very serious diseases of the nervous system known as ‘lathyrism’.  However, in small quantities seeds are safe and very nutritious (2).
Life Cycle It is an annual species which blooms from March to June (1).
Habitat It grows on cultivated and waste ground, usually sandy soils at low elevations (3).  It can also be found in hedgerows and on roadsides (1).
Distribution It grows in many countries such as Albania, Algeria, Croatia and France.  In Greece this species can be found on East Aegean islands and Crete (2).
Conservation status It is not mentioned on the IUCN Red List (4).
References Description translated by Natasa Palaiogewrgou (2009) 1)      Blamey. M., and Grey-Wilson. C. (1993) Mediterranean Wild Flowers, Harper Collins Publishers, London 2)      University of Reading (2006) Lathyrus clymenum [online] Available: [date accessed: 17/08/2009] 3)      Σφήκας Γιώργος, 1999, Αγριολούλουδα της Κρήτης, Εκδόσεις Efstathiadis Group. 4) IUCN (2009) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [online] Available: [date accessed: 17/08/2009]