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Common Name: Perennial Sweet Pea
Lathyrus latifolius is a Perennial Climber up to 2.00 metres tall.
It has edible and miscellaneous uses.
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)[
]. Great caution is advised.
S. Europe. Occasionally naturalized in Britain.
Hedges, vineyards, fields and uncultivated places[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good garden soil[
], whether acid or alkaline[
]. Prefers a position in full sun but tolerates part day shade[
]. Succeeds in dry soils and is drought tolerant when established[
]. Grows well on dry slopes[
]. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[
Plants are hardy to at least -10°c[
A very ornamental plant[
], there are many named varieties[
]. It is fast-growing and, when in a suitable position, can become invasive[
]. Plants climb by means of tendrils[
Resents root disturbance and can take a year or two to settle down after being moved[
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[
Seed - cooked[
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
Young seedpod - cooked[
Young plant - cooked[
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[
]. They should be spaced about 1.5 metres apart each way[
]. They are very vigorous and so are best not used with small plants[
]. They also die down completely in the winter, giving weeds a chance to become established[
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a cold frame[
]. 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[
Division in spring. It may not transplant well so care should be taken[