Tangier Pea

Lathyrus tingitanus L.

Order - Fabales

Family - Fabaceae


Lathyrus is from the Greek lathyros the name of a leguminous plant and probably this species that was used in southern Europe as an ancient food plant.

Tangier Pea refers to Tangiers in Northern Morocco close to its origin and its membership of the Pea or Fabaceae family.

Other Names:


Tangier Pea is a scrambling annual leguminous vine with winged stems to 3 m long, climbing by means of branched tendrils. The stem wings are 2-3 mm wide. The leaves are divided into 2 elliptic leaflets, each 2-6.5 cm long, and a terminal branched tendril. The inflorescence is composed of 1-3 pink to red or purple (rarely white) pea flowers each up to 3 cm long. The fruit is an oblong and flattened pod 6-10 cm long containing 6-8 seeds.

It is native to south west Europe but now a weed of roadsides and other disturbed areas. It flowers in spring.





Alternate. Single paired leaflets often with a branched tendril

Stipules - Narrowly egg shaped to arrow shaped, 12-20 mm long at the base of the petiole. (No stipule on the leaflets)

Petiole - 15-30 mm long, angular to narrowly winged. Leaflets stalkless.

Blade (of leaflet) - egg shaped to elliptic, soft, 20-45(80) mm long by (5)8-20(25) mm wide, longitudinally veined. Tip with a tiny point (mucro). Sides curved, Base tapered. Hairless.


Light green to grey green, up to 3 m long by 3-7 mm wide, angular, winged, climbing. Hairless.

Flower head:

1-3 flowered raceme. Axillary on stalks (peduncles) up to 150 mm long.

Bracts small or absent.


Pale pink to purple or white, 20-30 mm pea type flower.

Ovary -

Calyx - Cup shaped, 8-12 mm long, 10 ribbed with 5 almost equal, triangular lobes that are 3-5 mm long. Hairless.

Petals - Standard 23-30 mm long with a broadly egg shaped limb. Wings 15-20 mm long with and oblong limb. Keel 13-15 mm long.

Stamens - 10. 1 free and 9 joined.

Anthers - All the same size.


Brown, stalkless, narrowly oblong, flattened pod. 60-100 mm long by 8-10 mm wide. Hairless. Pod opening by 2 valves and with 6-8(10) seeds.


Black, globular and smooth.


Tap root with nitrogen fixing nodules.

Key Characters:

Leaves a single pair of leaflets terminating in a branched tendril.

Purple to pink or white pea type flowers.

Stems winged.

Stamens diadelphous (1 free stamen and a group of the rest).

Anthers uniform

Adapted from J.R. Wheeler


Life cycle:

Annual. Seeds germinates autumn/winter and it grows quickly over winter and spring to form a dense, tangled mat of vines. It flowers in spring and sets large amounts of seed that are explosively released from the pod up to several metres. It dies off with the onset of summer. Seeds may remain viable in the soil for several years.


Drought tolerant.

Relatively waterlogging tolerant compared to other legumes.

Fixes atmospheric nitrogen so it grows well in N deficient situations.


By seed.

Flowering times:

October to November in Perth and WA.

Spring to summer in SE Australia

Seed Biology and Germination:

Dormant seed is produced that may remain viable in the soil for several years.

Vegetative Propagules:

None. Regrows from base if stems are broken.



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Spread mainly by intentional planting and road works.

Origin and History:

Native to Spain, Portugal, Sardinia and the Azores.



Swan Coastal Plain, Jarrah Forest and Warren regions of WA.

Naturalised in QLD.

New Zealand, Papua New Guinea.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium


Disturbed areas, stream banks, drains, coastal cliffs.


Temperate. Mediterranean. Sub tropical.


Sandy, loamy, clayey and gravelly soils.

Plant Associations:




Used as a green manure crop.


Environmental weed of roadsides and forest margins.

Smothers low growing species and reduces regeneration of other species

Fire hazard when it dies in summer.


May cause Lathyrism in man and animals.

May cause Osteolathyrism mainly in animals.

It contains ODAP which is a neurological toxin.

Concentrations of ODAP below 0.2% are generally considered to be safe.


Lathyrism is a nervous disorder causing paralysis of the legs and occasionally death.

Osteolathyrism is characterised by severe skeletal deformities.


Don't consume seed as more than 40-50% of the diet.



Management and Control:

Prevent seed set for several years.

Graze or regularly mow the area if possible.

Replant or encourage species that will increase the level of shade.


Rarely a problem in agriculture.

Eradication strategies:

Prevent seed set for several years.

Burn vines to encourage seed germination.

Hand weeding is effective but time consuming due to the high densities of plants that are usually present. Seedlings are easily pulled in winter but there can be very large numbers and the disturbance may lead to a secondary germination. Larger plants tend to break off and re grow from the base. Vines with seed including immature seed should be burnt.

Cultivation in mid to late winter is effective but may need to be repeated if a late germination occurs.

Mowing or grazing is also effective.

Spray annually in winter with 10 g/ha metsulfuron600 plus wetting agent or spot spray using 0.2 g metsulfuron(600 g/kg) plus 25 mL Pulse® in 10 L water and spray until just wet, any time before flowering.

In bushland 200 g/ha Lontrel®750 plus 0.25% wetting agent applied in winter before flowering or a spot spray of 4 g Lontrel®750 plus 25 mL Pulse® in 10 L water provides reasonable control and is more selective. Annual control for a number of years is required to exhaust the seed bank.

Herbicide resistance:

None reported.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Angular Pea (Lathyrus angulatus)

Chickling Vetch (Lathyrus sativus)

Dwarf Chickling Vetch (Lathyrus cicera) varieties include Chalus.

Everlasting Pea (Lathyrus latifolius) has broader stem wings (4-6 mm wide) and more numerous flowers (3-15 per inflorescence) and has wrinkled seeds.

Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)

Slender Wild Pea (Lathyrus sphaericus)

Plants of similar appearance:

Vetches (Vicia species), which also climb by means of tendrils but which differ in that their leaves are divided into 3-10 pairs of leaflets.


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Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney).

Hussey, B.M.J., Keighery, G.J., Cousens, R.D., Dodd, J. and Lloyd, S.G. (2007). Western Weeds. A guide to the weeds of Western Australia. (Second Edition). Plant Protection Society of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia. P156. Photo.

Lazarides, M. and Cowley, K. and Hohnen, P. (1997). CSIRO handbook of Australian Weeds. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #564.6

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P278.

Moore, J.H. and Wheeler, J.R. (2008). Southern Weeds and their Control. (Second Edition). Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. P Photos.

Muyt, A. (2001). Bush Invaders of South-East Australia: a guide to the identification and control of environmental weeds found in South East Australia. (R.G and F.J. Richardson, Australia). P143. Photos.

Paczkowska, G. and Chapman, A. (2000). The Western Australia flora: a descriptive catalogue. (Wildflower Society of Western Australia (Inc), the Western Australian Herbarium, CALM and the Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority). P438.

Roy, B., Popay, I., Champion, P., James, T. and Rahman, A. (1998). An Illustrated Guide to Common Weeds of New Zealand. (New Zealand Plant Protection Society). P160. Photo

Wheeler, Judy, Marchant, Neville and Lewington, Margaret. (2002). Flora of the South West: Bunbury - Augusta - Denmark. (Western Australian Herbarium, Bentley, Western Australia). P763. Diagram.


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