Lathyrus magellanicus

 

Introduction

Many authors claim that Lathyrus nervosus and Lathyrus magellanicus are synonyms for the same plant. In fact, although they are both blue flowered perennial species from South America, they are quite different. Of the two, Lathyrus magellanicus is much less well known, although it probably has much to offer as a garden plant in areas with high rainfall.

There is a well illustrated account in Spanish at Flora Chilena.

Other photos appear to be either Vicia magellanica or Lathyrus pubescens. The flowers of South American Vicia species are remarkably similar in appearance to those of certain local Lathyrus species, frequently causing confusion.

Distribution

Very widespread in South America, from sea level in Tierra del Fuego in the south to 3500m in Colombia. Physical characteristics vary greatly over the range, making this a difficult species for the taxonomist, and even more difficult for the enthusiastic amateur. Not suprisingly this species has gathered a substantial list of synonyms over the years.

The most recent taxanomic revision recognises four varieties; var. magellanicus, var. glaucescens, var. pterocaulos and var. gladiatus.

Summary

Nomenclature

The name Lathyrus magellanicus has been also been used for another Lathyrus species.
L. magellanicus Arechav. is a synonym for the annual species L. paranensis Burkart.