Showy pink blossoms, delicate fragrance and winding tendrils – it’s sweet pea season. I’ve been seeing them growing along roads and trails, in gardens, and in bouquets on people’s tables or shop counters. This is an invasive species that it’s hard not to love – a guilty botanical pleasure!
As with yesterday’s plant, this is one where I learned more than I bargained for in the identification. I had naively assumed that there was only one type of sweet pea and that every time I saw that distinctive pink blossom it was the same species. Wrong again! There are several different kinds, and also some native species with paler pink blooms, so you have to look close. Tangier pea, or Lathyrus tingitanus, has the winged stem, two-parted leaves and large, deep pink flowers that mark it as one of the non-native species. You can tell Tangier pea from sweet pea because it is an annual, and also because it only has two or three blossoms per stalk.