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Lathyrus japonicus (Beach pea)
Smith, R.W.

Lathyrus japonicus

Lathyrus japonicus Willd.

Beach Pea, Sand Pea

Fabaceae (Pea Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

Trailing vine with a stout, angled stem and pink-lavender pea-like flowers in long-stalked clusters.

In addition to North America, this widely distributed Sweetpea-like flower is also found in Chile and Japan. Marsh Pea (L. palustris), a similar species with purple flowers and lanceolate stipules, is found in wet meadows and marshes in the Northeast and Midwest.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Vine
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , CA , CT , IL , IN , MA , ME , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , VT , WA , WI
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Coastal Labrador to New England; south to New Jersey; along the Great Lakes; Pacific coast from Alaska to California.
Native Habitat: Beaches and gravelly areas.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Sandy


Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS: Peas and very young pods. Collect young pods in early summer and peas slightly later. Do not wash with detergent or sanitizer, only water. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Seeds. Toxic if ingested in large quantities. Symptoms include Lathyrism"": paralysis, slow and weak pulse, shallow breathing, convulsions. Toxic Principle: Amine, phenol, and glycoside. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Eastern Tailed Blue

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Native plants of dune erosion control in Michigan
May 30, 2008
We care for Lake Michigan dune near our home in New Buffalo and would like to provide erosion control with native species that will also enhance the beauty of the dune with long lasting flowers. The ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Lathyrus japonicus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lathyrus japonicus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lathyrus japonicus


Record Modified: 2015-03-17
Research By: TWC Staff

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