Summer Wildflowers: Broad-leaved sweet pea

While walking in the Warren Magnuson Park in Seattle recently we stumbled upon a field of pink broad-leaved sweet pea. The bright pink flowers were stunning in the middle of the open field, right next to a field of white wild carrots flowers (see next post for that :0)

Also known as everlasting pea, perennial sweet pea or wild sweet pea, the broad-leaved sweet pea is native to the Mediterranean, but have been grown in the North America since the 1700s. Blooming throughout summer, it is found in moist soils along roads, ditches, in  abandoned fields, deserted lots,  and also in low to mid-elevation on Mount Rainier and the Olympic National Park.

From afar, the flowers of the broad-leaved sweet pea resemble some species of orchid. It is only when you take a closer look that you see the green pods growing from the stems as they blend in with the leaves. Despite its name, these peas inside the pods are not edible as they may cause mild stomach.

So how do you tell the difference between edible pea and the sweet pea? Sweet peas are generally smaller leaved than edible peas. The stems of edible peas are round in cross section and slightly succulent in texture. Sweet pea stems are slightly flattened, winged and rough in texture

This wild sweet pea plant can grow up to 6-9 ft tall (180-270 cm) and 3-6 ft wide (90-180 cm). While pretty, the flowers are not fragrant. And although they attract bees and butterflies, they are neglected by deers.

The broad-leaved sweet pea is not to be confused with the sweet pea plant that gardeners like to plant in their yards here. The latter has fragrant flowers, and often come in not just pink, but come in bi-color of white, lavender, purple and magenta.


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