Lathyrus latifolius

 

Introduction

A vigorous and hardy perennial native to central and southern Europe, Lathyrus latifolius is the best known of the perennial Lathyrus species. It has a long history as a garden plant and is also grown commercially as a cut flower crop, particularly in Japan.

Lathyrus latifolius

Distribution

Its tough, adaptable nature ensured that Lathyrus latifolius had a wide natural distribution in southern and central Europe and reaching into North Africa. More recently, as a garden escapee, it has become naturalised in many countries worldwide.

Summary

Cultivation

Easy and adaptable, Lathyrus latifolius enjoys full sun and is indifferent as to soil type. It should not be planted where it can spread to overwhelm choicer or more delicate plants, but will happily colonise rough embankments and looks spectacular in full flower. The white and pink forms look more refined than the magenta, but are equally vigorous. A particularly dark form, var. splendens, is also desirable and is sometimes erroneously listed as Lathyrus splendens which is a totally different species.

Lathyrus latifolius seed is variable in colour, with pale seed usually producing plants with white or pink flowers. Similarly dark seed normally gives plants with dark magenta flowers. These generalisations, however, cannot be relied upon absolutely. Germination is also somewhat unpredictable and may be slow and sporadic.