The Wild Sweet Pea

 

Wild Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolia)

Wild Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolia)

Recently both Fine Gardening and Margaret at A Way to Garden mentioned the attractive attributes of Lathyrus vernus for Spring flowers (that’s the vernus part of the name :)).  I immediately amended my order to Seneca Hill Perennials to include this charming little member of the Legume family.  In addition to the appealing descriptions of L. vernus, I was attracted because of the positive experience we’ve had with a related plant, the Wild or Perennial Sweet Pea (Lathyrus latifolius).  You can often see the Perennial Sweet Pea growing along roadsides next to cultivated fields throughout a good part of the U.S.  Just keep your eye peeled for startlingly pink/white colors that seem as though someone mistakenly put some Garden Sweet Peas in a very unusual location.  Unlike the Garden Sweet Pea, they have a very long season and for us they are quite reliable, returning year after year.  In the right location, they will compete for their space with even the strongest growing companions.  In our case I put one plant on a bank filled with weeds along with seeds of Crownvetch.  Both the Pea and the Crownvetch have gradually taken over most of the bank, much to the my pleasure.  Being a Legume it also returns nitrogen to the soil for the long term as an added benefit.  The flowers provide very nice cuttings although they don’t have the traditional Sweet Pea fragrance.  I wouldn’t plant L. latifolius in a standard garden location as it is very vigorous but for the right location this is a great plant to have.

 

Perennial Sweet Pea (white to pink)

Perennial Sweet Pea (white to pink)

 

Perennial Sweet Pea with Crownvetch

Perennial Sweet Pea with Crownvetch

6 comments on “The Wild Sweet Pea

  1. salix

    I saw the post about the Lathyrus Vernus at A Way to Garden too, and I made a note to look into growing that one next year.
    Your perennial Sweet Peas look beautiful!

  2. Karen - An Artist's Garden

    What lovely images of the perennial sweet peas, they are such a dainty addition to any garden.
    K

  3. gail

    Lovely pinks…I am going to have to check out the FG article…how did I miss it! gail

    1. jw

      And there are so many other Lathyrus to try as well. It seems that everything I look at leads to something else that’s new and different — a world of possibilities.

  4. A Hebron

    can anyone tell me if the pods of the perenial sweet pea are edible ?

    1. jw

      I wouldn’t recommend them for eating. They are very likely poisonous to mammals as is the cultivated sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus). Eaten in sufficient quantity they can affect the nervous system.