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Herbaceous Perennial

Lathyrus niger

black pea

L. niger is an upright perennial, to 90cm tall, with robust, wingless, branched stems and leaves comprising 3-6 pairs of elliptical leaflets up to 4cm long and lacking tendrils. Purplish flowers, that turn blue as they age, are borne in sprays of four to ten in late spring and early summer and are followed by black pods carrying 6-8 seeds. The plant derives its name from its foliage which turns black as it dies

Other common names
black vetchling
Synonyms
Orobus niger
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Size
Ultimate height
0.5–1 metres
Time to ultimate height
2–5 years
Ultimate spread
0.1–0.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Purple Green
Summer Purple Blue Green Black
Autumn Black Black
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

East–facing or South–facing or North–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H5
Botanical details
Family
Fabaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Acute ingestion may cause mild stomach upset. Wear gloves and wash hands after handling
Genus

Lathyrus can be annuals or herbaceous or evergreen perennials, mostly climbing, with pinnate leaves ending in a tendril, and showy pea-like flowers, fragrant in some species

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe, Africa, Asia

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How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in a fertile, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. See sweetpea cultivation for further information

Propagation

Propagate by seed

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • City and courtyard gardens
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

Deadhead to prolong flowering and cut back in autumn

Pests

May be attacked by aphids, slugs and snails

Diseases

May be affected by powdery mildews, Fusarium wilt and sweet pea viruses

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