Everlasting Pea

IMG_3072I can’t see these flowers without being reminded of the late Dr. Harry Yeatman, Sewanee biology professor extraordinaire, who wrote a regular nature column for the Sewanee Mountain Messenger for years. The herbarium’s associate curator, Yolande Gottfried, now fills that role.  When Everlasting Pea began to bloom, Harry would never fail to remind us that although people often call this plant Sweet Pea, it’s actually the fragrance-free Everlasting Pea, Lathyrus latifolius. Pollinated by bumblebees, butterflies, and other insects, it is eaten by some herbivores although the seeds are poisonous. Flowers range from white to almost a fuscia, fading to lavenders and blues as they go to seed. Now take a look in the background. Do you see what I see? Yes, those are bright red blackberries, still immature but ripening by the day. They should be juicy and sweet in a very few weeks. A favorite food for some caterpillars and grazing animals (especially deer), they are also a real treat for us!

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