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Lathyrus latifolius - L.                
                 
Common Name Perennial Sweet Pea, Perennial pea
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
Synonyms
Known Hazards Although no records of toxicity have been found for this plant, the seed of some species in this genus contain a toxic amino acid that can cause a severe disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism' if they are eaten in large amounts (although small quantities are said to be nutritious)[65, 76]. Great caution is advised.
Habitats Hedges, vineyards, fields and uncultivated places[50].
Range S. Europe. Occasionally naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       
Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Lathyrus latifolius is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.


USDA hardiness zone : 5-9


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Lathyrus latifolius Perennial Sweet Pea, Perennial pea


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:TeunSpaans
Lathyrus latifolius Perennial Sweet Pea, Perennial pea
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:TeunSpaans
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover; Meadow;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked[105, 177]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young seedpod - cooked[105, 177]. Young plant - cooked[105, 177].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known
Other Uses
Plants can be grown without supports when they will sprawl on the ground and can be used as a ground cover plant in a sunny position[188, 202]. They should be spaced about 1.5 metres apart each way[208]. They are very vigorous and so are best not used with small plants[K]. They also die down completely in the winter, giving weeds a chance to become established[K].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Arbor, Container. An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good garden soil[200], whether acid or alkaline[202]. Prefers a position in full sun but tolerates part day shade[200]. Succeeds in dry soils and is drought tolerant when established[190]. Grows well on dry slopes[208]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233]. Plants are hardy to at least -10°c[202]. A very ornamental plant[1], there are many named varieties[187]. It is fast-growing and, when in a suitable position, can become invasive[202]. Plants climb by means of tendrils[188]. Resents root disturbance and can take a year or two to settle down after being moved[219]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. Special Features:All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Suitable for cut flowers.
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a cold frame[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, then it can also be sown in situ in mid spring[200]. Division in spring. It may not transplant well so care should be taken[200].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
50200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[190]Chatto. B. The Dry Garden.
A good list of drought resistant plants with details on how to grow them.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[202]Davis. B. Climbers and Wall Shrubs.
Contains information on 2,000 species and cultivars, giving details of cultivation requirements. The text is terse but informative.
[208]Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
[219]Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Ron Schwarz Thu May 10 2007
Here in farm country (rural midwest U.S.A.), the accepted wisdom is that Sweet Pea = poison. I would not risk eating them, and, I pull them out when I find them growing where livestock might browse.
Elizabeth H.
Jo Davis Fri Oct 19 2007
Lathyrus latifolius is considered a noxious weed in Oregon as it infest roadsides, forested regions and natural areas. Although it can provide good source of food for upland game birds, as it increase in size, large areas are smothered and native plant cover is reduced. Large infestations are starting to creep into Ponderosa pine forests.
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