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Lathyrus littoralis

Lathyrus littoralis (Nutt.) Endl.

Silky Beach Pea, Silky Beach Vetching, Strand Sweet Pea, Dune Sweet Pea

Fabaceae (Pea Family)


USDA Symbol: lali2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

The long weak stems of this sweet pea do not end in tendrils, so the perennial tends to form clumps up to 2 ft. high. The pinnately compound leaves are densely felted with silvery hairs. The leaflets are short and overlapping. Contrasting with the foliage are purple to red-purple, pea-like flowers with delicate veining. The flowers are followed by pea-like pods. This silky-hairy, gray plant grows in low patches, with pink and white "pea flowers" in dense racemes among pinnately compound leaves.

This beautifully colored plant forms dense patches among yellow and pink Sand Verbenas and Beach Morning Glories, adding to the spectacular natural garden of coastal dunes. A relative, Beach Pea or Sand Pea (L. japonicus), differs in having smooth stems and leaves, 2-8 flowers, each 3/4-1 1/4" (2-3.1 cm) long, with reddish-purple petals; it grows on sand dunes from northern California to Alaska.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Fruit Type: Legume
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Leaf: Yellow-Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul


Canada: BC
Native Distribution: Pacific coast from Monterey Co., CA to Vancouver I., B.C.
Native Habitat: Sandy areas, particularly dunes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Well-drained, sandy soils.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Propagate with treated seeds.
Seed Treatment: Seeds must be scarified and/or stratified.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Web Reference

Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Lathyrus littoralis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lathyrus littoralis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lathyrus littoralis


Record Modified: 2023-01-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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