Sea Pea Lathyrus japonicus Willd.
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Sea Pea at Rye NR

Sea Pea flowers

Pea pods
The Sea Pea  does not generally flower before its third year, but a well-established plant may have 40-50 inflorescences each bearing 7-9 flowers. The main flowering period is between late May and the end of July. After pollination by mainly long-tongued bumble bees, a pea pod containing 5-8 peas is produced. Dispersal is mainly by sea and the seeds may remain buoyant and viable in sea water for up to 5 years.

The Sea Pea is a rare plant and in decline, although it may be locally abundant where it is found. Its distribution in Sussex and Kent is decreasing in part because of sea defence works and coastal development pressures. It is Nationally Scarce (JNCC) in the UK, which means it only occurs in between 16-100 hectads (10x10 km squares). This plant is protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) and must not be picked without permission from the landowner.  It grew on the Cayeux spit at the mouth of the Somme estuary, but disappeared, probably in the mid 1940s, and is no longer present in France. 

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