Narrow-leaved everlasting pea (Lathyrus sylvestris) is found in scattered locations throughout the British Isles in hedges, thickets and woods. It is often found on railway embankments. It was originally a cultivated plant that was grown in gardens for its showy flowers, but it ‘escaped’ into the wild and gardeners are now more likely to grow the related sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) which has been developed to display many shades of colour, as well as being scented.
The narrow-leaved everlasting pea is a scrambling plant that climbs up other plants, such as blackberries, by means of the branched tendrils at the ends of its leaves. It grows up to 80 inches (200 cms) high. The stems have prominent broad ‘wings’.
Narrow-leaved everlasting pea flowers from June to August. The stalk bearing the flower-head is usually longer than the leaves and carries anything from three to eight flowers, which are either pink or white.
The smooth pods are 2-3 inches (5-9 cms) long and contain up to 14 seeds each.
The name ‘everlasting’ refers to the fact that the plant is a perennial, as opposed to the true pea which is an annual.