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Norfolk Everlasting Pea

Lathyrus heterophyllus

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad Bean, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, meadows, sand dunes, wasteland.

Pink, 5 petals
Pink pea-like flowers.
The fruit is a pea-like pod. The seeds are globular in shape, up to 5mm in diameter.
A scrambling or climbing perennial. The greyish-green leaves are broad and pinnately divided. Leaflets are oval to oblong. Found in one area of Britain on the sand dunes of Norfolk.
Other Names:
Many-leaved Everlasting Pea, Perennial Pea.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Lathyrus heterophyllus, also known as many-leaved everlasting pea or perennial pea, is a perennial herb in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia and typically grows in fields, meadows, and other disturbed areas. The plant has pinnate leaves and large, pink or purple flowers that bloom in the summer. The root of the plant is not edible and it is not considered to be toxic. The seeds of Lathyrus heterophyllus, like other species of Lathyrus, are toxic and not to be consumed, eating large amounts of them over a period of time can cause a neurological disorder called lathyrism.


Norfolk Everlasting Pea, also known as Lathyrus heterophyllus, is a beautiful flowering plant native to Europe and Asia. This stunning perennial herbaceous plant is a member of the pea family, and it is commonly found in meadows, grasslands, and hedgerows.

Norfolk Everlasting Pea is a hardy plant that can survive in a wide range of climates and soil types. It can grow up to 1.5 meters tall and has long, narrow leaves with a bluish-green color. The plant produces attractive flowers that come in shades of pink, purple, and white, which bloom from June to August.

One of the reasons why Norfolk Everlasting Pea is so popular is because of its long blooming period. The plant produces flowers for an extended period, providing a beautiful display of color throughout the summer months. Additionally, the plant's flowers are attractive to a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies.

Norfolk Everlasting Pea is relatively easy to grow and maintain, making it an excellent choice for both beginner and experienced gardeners. The plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun or partial shade. It is also tolerant of drought, making it an ideal plant for areas with low rainfall.

One of the most unique features of Norfolk Everlasting Pea is its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Like other legumes, this plant has nodules on its roots that contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that the plant can use, which helps to enrich the soil and support other plants in the surrounding area.

In addition to being a beautiful ornamental plant, Norfolk Everlasting Pea has a variety of uses in traditional medicine. The plant has been used to treat a range of ailments, including respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, and skin conditions. However, it is important to note that the plant contains toxic compounds that can cause paralysis if consumed in large quantities.

Norfolk Everlasting Pea is a stunning and versatile plant that is well-suited for a variety of garden settings. With its attractive flowers, long blooming period, and ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, this plant is sure to be a favorite among gardeners and nature enthusiasts alike. However, it is important to handle the plant with care and respect its potential toxicity.

Norfolk Everlasting Pea is also an excellent plant for use in landscaping and restoration projects. Due to its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, it can be used to improve soil fertility and support the growth of other plants in the area. Additionally, its long blooming period and attractive flowers make it an excellent choice for adding color and interest to meadows, roadside plantings, and other naturalized areas.

Norfolk Everlasting Pea can be propagated from seed or by dividing mature plants. Seeds should be sown in the spring, and the plant can be divided in the fall or early spring. Once established, the plant requires minimal maintenance, although deadheading spent flowers can help to prolong the blooming period.

It is important to note that Norfolk Everlasting Pea can be invasive in some areas. In regions where the plant is not native, it can spread rapidly and outcompete native plants. Therefore, it is important to check with local authorities or consult with a gardening expert before introducing this plant to a new area.

In addition to its aesthetic and ecological benefits, Norfolk Everlasting Pea also has cultural and historical significance. In traditional folklore, the plant was said to have magical properties and was often associated with love and romance. It was also believed to have healing properties and was used in various herbal remedies.

Moreover, Norfolk Everlasting Pea has been cultivated for hundreds of years for its medicinal and ornamental value. It has been documented as a garden plant in England since the 16th century, and it has since spread to other parts of Europe, Asia, and North America.

In modern times, Norfolk Everlasting Pea has become increasingly popular among gardeners and landscape architects who are interested in sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil makes it a valuable addition to any garden or restoration project, and its attractive flowers and foliage make it an ideal choice for adding color and texture to a variety of settings.

Norfolk Everlasting Pea is also a favorite of many butterfly and moth species. The plant is the host for the caterpillars of several species of butterflies and moths, including the Dingy Skipper, Clouded Yellow, and Common Blue. This makes it an excellent choice for gardeners who are interested in creating a habitat for these important pollinators.

In addition to its use as a garden plant, Norfolk Everlasting Pea has also been used for erosion control and soil stabilization. Its extensive root system helps to anchor soil and prevent erosion, making it an ideal plant for use in areas that are prone to soil erosion or landslides.

Finally, Norfolk Everlasting Pea has cultural significance in many parts of the world. In Japan, the plant is known as "Oyamatsutsuji" and is a popular ornamental plant. It is also used in traditional Japanese medicine to treat a variety of ailments. In the United States, the plant is sometimes called "Mountain Sweet Pea" and is a favorite of hikers and nature enthusiasts who appreciate its delicate beauty and hardy nature.

In conclusion, Norfolk Everlasting Pea is a versatile and valuable plant that offers a range of benefits to both people and the environment. Whether you are interested in its aesthetic appeal, its ecological benefits, or its cultural significance, this plant is sure to be a valuable addition to any garden, landscape, or restoration project. With its stunning flowers, long blooming period, and ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, Norfolk Everlasting Pea is truly a plant worth celebrating.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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