Three leaves make a Pea

Judy Gersony, Senior Biological Scientist at the Indian River Research and Education Center, University of Florida, led a wonderful walk for us at Queen’s Cove Preserve on Hutchinson Island (about 3 miles south of Round Island). For the walk, she prepared a plant list that was sorted by plant family. The name of the red-purple flowered plant that we saw and could not ID is phasey bean (Macroptilium lathryoides).

Judy pointed out that plants with 3 leaflets are often part of the pea (or legume) family – Fabaceae.

This non-native, tropical forage plant grows in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas. The stems often are pubescent, and each long seed pod contain 20 – 30 seeds. This annual or short-lived perennial plant grows in disturbed places, is somewhat salt tolerant, and frequently twines up in other plants reaching for sun.

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