Perennial sweet pea Lathyrus latifolius, photographed by Franz Xaver.

Belongs within: Fabeae.

Lathyrus, the sweet peas, is a genus of climbing or sprawling legumes with its greatest diversity in Northern Hemisphere temperate regions, particularly around the Mediterranean. Some species, such as the grass pea Lathyrus sativus, are grown for food. Others, such as the perennial pea L. latifolius, are grown as garden plants for their flowers. The species L. aphaca, native to Eurasia but introduced elsewhere, lacks true leaflets but instead has large leaflet-like stipules (Hickman 1993).

Characters (from Hickman 1993): Annual or perennial, unarmed, glabrous or hairy, rarely glandular, generally rhizomed. Stem sprawling, climbing, or erect; angled, flanged or winged. Leaves even-1-pinnate; stipules persistent, upper lobe larger than lower; main axis ending as a tendril or short bristle, leaflets 0–16, more or less opposite or alternate, linear to widely ovate. Inflorescence a raceme, generally axillary, 1–many-flowered. Flower with upper calyx lobes generally shorter and wider than lower; corolla 8–30 mm, pink-purple or pale, sometimes white or yellow; 9 filaments fused, 1 free; style flat, finely hairy on concave side. Fruit dehiscent, oblong, more or less flat.

    |--L. angulatus H93
    |--L. aphaca PT98
    |--L. biflorus H93
    |--L. bijugatus H93
    |--L. brownii [=L. pauciflorus ssp. brownii] H93
    |--L. cicera LR-S01
    |--L. clymenum LR-S01
    |--L. delnorticus H93
    |--L. glandulosus H93
    |--L. hirsutus H91
    |--L. hitchcockianus H93
    |--L. japonicus [incl. L. japonicus var. glaber] H93
    |--L. jepsonii H93
    |    |--L. j. var. jepsonii H93
    |    `--L. j. var. californicus H93
    |--L. lanszwertii H93
    |    |--L. l. var. lanszwertii H93
    |    |--L. l. var. aridus H93
    |    `--L. l. var. tracyi H93
    |--L. latifolius H91
    |--L. littoralis H93
    |--L. magellanicus D03
    |--L. maritimus D03 [=Pisum maritimum C55]
    |--L. nevadensis [incl. L. nevadensis ssp. lanceolatus] H93
    |--L. nissolia H91
    |--L. ochrus LR-S01
    |--L. odoratus M99
    |--L. palustris H93
    |--L. polyphyllus H93
    |--L. pratensis LNB03
    |--L. rigidus H93
    |--L. sativus LR-S01
    |--L. sphaericus H91
    |--L. splendens H93
    |--L. sulphureus [incl. L. sulphureus var. argillaceus[ H93
    |--L. tingitanus LR-S01
    |--L. torreyi H93
    `--L. vestitus [incl. L. vestitus ssp. bolanderi] H93
         |--L. v. var. vestitus [incl. L. laetiflorus ssp. barbarae, L. laetiflorus, L. vestitus ssp. puberulus] H93
         |--L. v. var. alefeldii [=L. laetiflorus ssp. alefeldii] H93
         `--L. v. var. ochropetalus H93

*Type species of generic name indicated


[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[D03] Dusén, P. 1903. The vegetation of western Patagonia. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 1–34. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[H93] Hickman, J. C. (ed.) 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press: Berkeley (California).

[H91] Hubálek, Z. 1991. Biogeographic indication of natural foci of tick-borne infections. In: Dusbábek, F., & V. Bukva (eds) Modern Acarology: Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Acarology, held in České Budĕjovice, Czechoslovakia, 6–11 August 1990 vol. 1 pp. 255–260. SPB Academic Publishing: The Hague.

[LNB03] Ledeganck, P., I. Nijs & L. Beyens. 2003. Plant functional group diversity promotes soil protist diversity. Protist 154 (2): 239–249.

[LR-S01] Liu, A., & T. J. Ridsdill-Smith. 2001. Comparison of feeding damage by redlegged earth mite Halotydeus destructor (Tucker) (Acari: Penthaleidae) to different grain legume species as an indicator of potentially resistant lines. In: Halliday, R. B., D. E. Walter, H. C. Proctor, R. A. Norton & M. J. Colloff (eds) Acarology: Proceedings of the 10th International Congress pp. 295–299. CSIRO Publishing: Melbourne.

[M99] Matthews, M. 1999. Heliothine Moths of Australia: A guide to bollworms and related noctuid groups. CSIRO Publishing.

[PT98] Panitsa, M., & D. Tzanoudakis. 1998. Contribution to the study of the Greek flora: flora and vegetation of the E Aegean islands Agathonisi and Pharmakonisi. Willdenowia 28: 95–116.

Last updated: 8 April 2020.

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