Everlasting Pea (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Lathyrus latifolius
Fabaceae (beans)

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; leaves in sets of 2 leaflets, with tendrils emerging from between.

Stem length: to 3 feet.
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 naturalized statewide, it has a long blooming period: The plant keeps developing new flowers as its stems lengthen.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Scattered statewide.
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.
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