Lathyrus belinensis

 

Introduction

A recently discovered annual species, Lathyrus belinensis makes an unusual and attractive garden plant. It is easily grown and strongly scented, although the fragrance is different to that of the related sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus.

Summary

Lathyrus belinensis flower

Cultivation

An easily grown annual for a sunny position. The small rough seeds germinate readily if the seed coat is abraided immediately prior to sowing, and the young plants can be planted out in their flowering position after the last frost. A more delicate looking plant than the sweet pea, with smaller leaves and flowers. Lathyrus belinensis needs support for it to reach its natural height of about three or four feet. It is also ideal for growing in urns or hanging baskets where it will trail downwards without producing excessive growth. The value of this species as a garden plant is greatly enhanced by the fact that it carries a gene which makes it immune to powdery mildew. Seed is available from Owl's Acre Sweet Peas.

Legume & Seeds

Lathyrus belinensis, legume and seeds

Hybrids

Lathyrus belinensis is closely related to L. odoratus but the two species do not produce a viable hybrid under normal conditions. The hybrid has, however, been created using laboratory techniques and, although itself sterile, produces fertile offspring when back crossed onto L. odoratus. Work originally carried out in the hope of breeding a yellow sweet pea proved unsuccessful, but efforts to transfer the single dominant gene which confers resistance to powdery mildew looks more promising. Hybrids between L. odoratus and L. belinensis often exhibit unusual and unexpected flower colours.