T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting pea)

Kingdom: Plantae
(Unranked): Angiosperms
(Unranked): Eudicots
(Unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Fabeae
Genus: Lathyrus
Species: L. latifolius
Binomial name: Lathyrus latifolius
Common name: Everlasting pea. Peavine, Perennial pea.

Lathyrus latifolius is a perennial herbaceous vine (climber) in the legume family. It can reach 2 m or more by means of twining tendrils, but in open areas it sprawls. It is frost-hardy, long-lived and slowly spreading. It is native to Europe. While grown as a garden plant it may be pervasive and difficult to remove. Because of this, this species is often considered to be a weed despite its attractive appearance. It is common throughout the North and South Islands including Stewart Island except central and south Westland. Found in patches in roadside hedges, banks and waste lands.
Lathyrus latifolius has winged hairless stems, and alternating blue green compound leaves consisting of a single pair of leaflets and a winged petiole about 5cm long. The leaflets are narrowly ovate or oblong-ovate, smooth along the margins, hairless and up to 7 cm long and 2.5 cm across. There is a branched tendril between the leaflets.
Short racemes of 4-11 flowers are produced from the axils of the leaves. The flowers, which are unscented, are up to 2.5 cm across with a typical structure for a pea flower, with an upper standard and lower keel, enclosed by lateral petals. There are 5 petals, which are purplish pink, fading with age. There is a green calyx with 5 teeth, often unequal. The blooming period lasts about 2 months during the summer and early autumn. 
The flowers are replaced by hairless flattened seedpods, about 10 cm long and 1.3 cm wide, with several seeds inside. The seedpod, which is initially green, gradually turns brown, splitting open into curled segments, flinging out the seeds. The seeds are dark and oblong to reniform in shape.
Lathyrus latifolius can reproduce vegetatively from its taproot and rhizomes, or by reseeding.

Lathyrus latifolius vine growing up a Macropiper excelsum (Kawakawa)


 

 

Lathyrus latifolius growing among roadside weeds and scrub.