Sunday, August 10

Perennial Sweet Pea Surprise

When I first moved into my home 4 years ago, the backyard was almost entirely grass. I noticed a little blooming plant in the corner where my backyard met with 3 of the neighboring yards, however. Occasionally, I or my neighbor would nick it with the mower and it would always come back just fine.

When we fenced in the backyard I discovered that the plant is sited in the very corner of my property, so it became part of the "Bordeaux garden." Based on the flowers and the foliage, I had guessed that it was a sweet pea, and therefore deduced that someone must have gardened in that area in the past. The flowers on this pea are a pretty mauve/purple, seen here mingling with a branch of my 'Concord' grape that needs to be cut back since it's obscuring the stepping stone:

This morning I was weeding around the patio stones when I came upon a surprise. Not only was the sweet pea continuing to bloom, but also it was covered with... peas!

My first inclination was to run for the camera, of course, and as soon as a few pics were snapped I headed back indoors to download them and do a little investigation. I was pretty sure it was not actually a sweet pea, lathyrus odoratus, by now, as the flowers are not fragrant and the foliage isn't quite right. This may not be the greatest picture, but I hope you can see how flat the stems are, even where they join together:

A commenter on the Dave's Garden site, in fact, mentioned not liking this plant because its foliage looked like a bunch of preying mantises all strung together... but that's part of what I like about it! This unique foliage helped me to identify my mystery plant as the perennial sweet pea, lathyrus latifolia.

All parts of this plant, including the "peas," are poisonous, and it has been mentioned as being invasive in certain areas as well. So I'm off to cut off the little seedpods now... I'm not going to yank out the plant, but I don't particularly want to enable it to spread around. And with a Gardening Assistant who likes to sample the produce in my yard, I really can't have toxic seeds that look like appetizers hanging around within a dog's reach!


Katarina said...

Surprises like this one are really nice! You're wise to take the seed pods away though, it would be horrible if your dog ate them!

Thanks for your comment on my blog - I will indeed bring my cannas indoors for the winter1

Ewa said...

oww.. I didnt know they are toxic... thank you for pointing it out /Ewa

Frances, said...

Hi Kim, Too bad about the toxicity of this pretty plant. Are all sweet peas toxic? We have seen this wild sweet pea here and there and even planted a white one in Texas. I wanted to tell you thanks for the tips on canning and also that I was thinking of you while watching the olympic women's beach volleyball contests. Do you wear that outfit when you play? ;->

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I can't believe you've got a blooming Pea plant. It's lovely. I guess it will be dog-safe if you zealously deadhead it.

flydragon said...

Hi Kim,
I too have this plant in my garden. If you would like to see a picture of what happens when it gets out of hand go to my blog and look up the post "Oh, what a tangled mess we make" dated july 17. Click on the picture for a closer view.

I still like the flowers, though, so I'll be keeping it around for a while.

Anonymous said...

Well, I like the plant but your nails look fabulous!

Unknown said...

Katarina, it is certainly a very pretty surprise! And yes, I see no reason to tempt the Gardening Assistant. I think she's already got her eye on my first ripening tomatoes, though... lol.

Ewa, I didn't realize that they were, either, until I did a little research.

Frances, I don't really know. I'll have to check that out--I was kind of surprised to find that these were toxic, to be honest.

And as far as those Olympic volleyball outfits... lol... I leave THOSE to the really good players! *grin*

Mr. McGregor's Daugther, I will definitely have to be zealous about this one. I actually figure that if I catch myself being lax, and/or missing a few pods here and there, I'll simply have to resign myself to cut it out entirely.

flydragon, how funny--I can't wait to see your "tangled mess" on your blog! The flowers are so pretty, though, aren't they?

Layanee, LOL! Thanks, I call this my "Jardin Manicure." You know, the garden version of a French manicure! :)

Stratoz said...

oh yes poisonous plants in the garden... I truly freaked out a student as we were harvesting potatoes by mentioning that the leaves were poisonous. She would not go close to the plants and asked a million questions about the dangers, it seemed like a million because there weren't that many different ones in her brain. she was seeking reassurance that she would live another day.

Jenn said...

It's a great little weed, but keep an eye on it. It will want to take over.

Birds love it, and spread it, so getting the seeds early is a good idea.

I ended up trying to eradicate the one I brought home. It was popping up in odd places years later.

Very pretty though, and worth keeping if you are vigilant.

Gail said...

This guy showed up in my garden, thanks for the id! I better check for peas before it lets them lose upon my known garden world! It is a shame, the flower is rather cute!


garden girl said...

Wow, I didn't know they were poisonous! Thanks for the info. They sure are pretty.

gintoino said...

That's a beautiful little plant. To bad it's poisonous. I think that as long as you keep it from going to seed it should be fine, unless you have a "gourmet" dog that likes to eat flowers like mine (he is crazy about gazanias!)

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Kim, I too like the form of the sweet pea. I hope Coco doesn't think they are peas to eat. Sometimes dogs know things aren't good for them. Sometimes they don't too. Be careful.

lisa said...

I think the flowers are pretty enough to keep around, despite the seed poison. I have a couple of these vines, but no blooms yet.

Julia Erickson said...

I love perennial sweet peas and just posted a picture of them on my blog too--guess we're on the same bloom time. They are also great for fixing nitrogen in your soil.

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