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Lindsay's Flora Blog - 17th August

Posted: Sunday 16th August 2020 by trustadmin

Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea Lathyrus latifolius

Yet again a plant I hadn’t planned on using persuaded me otherwise! This patch of Everlasting pea on the verge of Braye Common (Route de Beaumont)/scramble tracks was absolutely buzzing with insects, mostly Common Carder bees but other pollinators too. It is also the food plant of the caterpillar of the Long-tailed Blue butterfly which is on our local butterfly list but is relatively uncommon, so that is another tick for this plant.

It is a clambering plant with magenta-purple or pink, sometimes pale pink or pure white, pea-like flowers and widely winged stems and leaflets with prominent parallel veins. It has branched clinging tendrils (actually modified leaves) which curl around other stems and the plant weaves and climbs by means of these. It is a sweet pea lookalike but the flowers have no fragrance; however, cultivated varieties of this attractive perennial are now often sold as a garden plant.

Broad-leaved Everlasting-pea is a neophyte which was introduced in the 15th century and recorded in the wild in the UK by the 17th century. It is now a naturalised garden escape which likes growing on railway banks, hedges, waste ground and on roadsides. The best sites here are probably in the grassland/scrub to the east of the Lighthouse and at the edge of the scramble tracks - or you may find it has popped up in your garden – it has in mine!

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