Lathyrus latifolius L.
June to October I Family: Fabaceae
Flower: The round, green flower stalks come from the leaf axils and can reach almost a foot long with four to sixteen flowers on them. The flowers have five white to dark pink petals arranged with two large petals standing up behind two small petals forming a projection with the fifth petal forming a bottom of this keel.
Leaf: The alternate, green leaves have long winged petioles topped with a pair of leaflets. Each leaflet is a broad as the petiole wings at the base and slowly tapers to a point. There is a midvein. At the junction of the two leaflets and petiole is a forked tendril. The two ends twine around objects helping the vine to climb.
Stem: The stems are green with wide wings. They can reach 7 feet long and sprawl across the ground or climb up neighboring vegetation.
Root: The root is a perennial taproot with rhizomes.
Habitat: This plant prefers sunny slopes with good soil and often grow along roadsides or other disturbed areas.
Poisonous: The seeds are poisonous. The foliage is not poisonous.
Perennial Pea is easy to spot along a road. There are usually numerous vines snaking across over the roadside vegetation. Brilliant pink handfuls of flowers are scattered on the vines.
Other vines may have white flowers. The two colors may be adjacent to each other but do not seem to mix. Both can put on a show.
Originally this unscented relative of sweet peas came from southern Europe. The plant prefers south or west facing slopes where conditions are the warmest. Good soil and adequate moisture produce the biggest vines.
The vines do have tendrils and can climb, but are not strong climbers. The vines are easily broken. They can root, if they touch the ground.
Perennial pea is planted and seeds are available. The seeds germinate easily. The plant grows quickly, blooming the first year. It’s bright colors, long blooming time and ability to climb a trellis make it a popular garden plant.