Sea Pea at Rye Harbour

08 October 2016
Sea Pea at Rye Harbour

Sea pea (Lathyrus japonicus) is a Nationally scarce plant and its stronghold in Sussex is at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve, but even here it has declined by more than 50% in the last 30 years.

The main threat is the grazing by rabbits and the majority of the sea pea population is now on the shingle ridge closest to the sea. Since this population is vulnerable to being lost during winter storms we have collected seed and spread it inside the rabbit exclosures about 100 metres inland which were created for conserving other Rye Harbour specialties - least lettuce, stinking hawksbeard and red hempnettle.

Many of the seeds have large holes in them caused by the beetle Bruchus loti but there are also some small holes that may be the emergence holes of wasp parasites of the beetle!

These are the freshly emerged adults of Bruchus loti