Everlasting Pea

Lathyrus latifolius

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Photo of everlasting pea flower and leaves
Everlasting pea occurs in fencerows, roadsides, railroads, fields, and at old homesites where it was once cultivated.
Other Common Name
Perennial Sweet Pea
Family

Fabaceae (beans)

Description

Everlasting pea is a strong-climbing, hairless perennial, often covering large areas. Stems broadly winged. Flowers in clustered inflorescences with up to 10 flowers, about 1 inch long, in the typical pea-flower configuration, with a large standard (upper petal); rose-purple, rose-pink, or white; without any scent. Blooms May–September. Leaves alternate, their winged stems with lance-shaped stipules; the leaflets are in pairs, with tendrils emerging from between.

Size

Stem length: to 3 feet.

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Photo of everlasting pea flowers
Everlasting Pea
An old-fashioned garden plant your grandma might have grown on a fence, everlasting pea often persists at old homesites.

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Photo of everlasting pea flower with leaves
Everlasting Pea
The flowers of everlasting pea are about 1 inch long and are in the typical pea-flower configuration, with a large upper petal.
Habitat and conservation

Occurs in fencerows, roadsides, railroads, fields, and at old homesites where it was once cultivated and grown on fences and trellises. A native of the Old World that has become naturalized statewide, it has a long blooming period: The plant keeps developing new flowers as its stems lengthen.

image of Everlasting Pea Perennial Sweet Pea distribution map
Distribution in Missouri

Scattered statewide.

Status

This pretty, long-blooming, pink-flowered sweet pea is native to the Old World. An old-fashioned garden plant your grandma might have grown on a fence, everlasting pea often persists at old homesites.

Human connections

Many plants were introduced to North America long ago as ornamentals, then escaped from cultivation or simply persisted where they were planted. We scarcely see these as nonnatives because they've been here so long, but human planting is the reason they live on this continent.

Ecosystem connections

Bumblebees and butterflies visit the flowers, but only the former are effective pollinators. Beetles, moth caterpillars, and some mammals eat the foliage. The seeds are toxic.