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Everlasting Pea Lathyrus latifolius


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Everlasting Pea - habit
credit: Bas Kers/CCSA

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Family: Fabaceae, Pea view all from this family

Description This introduced vine with showy racemes of sweet pea-like purple-pink flowers climbs or trails.
Habit: introduced perennial vine or herb; twining; stems smooth, hairless, broadly winged; taprooted, difficult to eradicate.
Height: climbing to 10 ft (3.3 m) or more, or forming mat 18-30 in 45-75 cm) high.
Leaf: alternate, compound, on winged stalk; with two leaflets, smooth, oval to lanceolate, to 3 in (7.5 cm) long and 1 in (2.5 cm) wide, and a tendril which replaces the terminal leaflet.
Flower: pink-purple to white, 0.5-1 in (12-25 mm) wide or more, not fragrant; in short cluster of 2-20 flowerheads, from leaf axil.
Fruit: pod, smooth, flattened, to 3.5 in (9 cm) long, 0.5 in (1 cm) wide.

Warning Plants in the genus Lathyrus, particularly the seeds, can be toxic to humans and animals if ingested. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Flower June to September.

Habitat Woodland edges, fields, fence rows, old homesteads, fields, gardens, vacant lots, roadsides, railways, disturbed sites; also cultivated for erosion control, weed control, forage, and as an ornamental.

Range Native to southern Europe; introduced as an ornamental and for erosion control; escaped and naturalized throughout North America; reported in all 50 states except Alaska, Florida, and North Dakota; and in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

Discussion Also called sand pea, perennial pea, perennial peavine, perennial sweet pea. Two forms and many cultivars are recognized. Considered weedy or invasive in some areas.