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Genus of the Week

Week of Apr. 13-19

flower line - 2.2 K
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.

This week's genus:


Lathyrus


Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Caryophyllidae
Order: Fabiales
Family: Leguminosae (Fabaceae): The Pea Family
Subfamily: Papilionoideae
Tribe: Vicieae
Number of Species: At least 100

The genus Lathyrus displays several of the commonly known characteristics of the Leguminosae family, including typical pea flowers and tendrils at the terminal ends of the stems. While some species in this genus have edible seeds/pods, many are considered poisonous: lathyrism is a medical term used to describe the disease caused by eating peas or chick peas. This disease has been observed in both humans and animals, and includes symptoms such as cramps and "deformity". Those who are wise enough not to eat these species can be satisfied with admiring their beauty as well as their symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Lathyrus species:


References:

  1. Forey, Pamela. Wild Flowers of North America. New York, Gallery Books: 1991.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.

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