The Pea family (properly known as the Leguminosae) is a large one, and its members are easily recognised by their flower shape. I see them a lot during my meanders – Red and White clovers, the Bird’s-foot trefoil and Melilotus species, Tufted and Bush vetch are all common hereabouts.
Those that follow are the peas I see less often, starting with Meadow vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis), which is not an uncommon plant in my area – it’s just that I’ve seen it more often since lockdown started, as my walks have taken me along the less-used footpaths across local farm fields and meadows.
Grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia) is less common – or, perhaps, less easily found, as it’s a delicate plant, easily lost amongst the long grass in which it grows, unless you manage to spot its one or two bright pink flowers on fine, tall stems.
Broad-leaved everlasting pea (Lathyrus latifolius): I’ve found this lovely, sprawling pea in two local parks, both former rubbish dumps. It seems an aggressive climber and rambler, adorning bramble and low scrub with its attractive blooms. It is a favourite plant of the Long-tailed blue butterfly so I know where to look if this pretty migrant butterfly ever decides to fly as far as south Wales.
Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis) is new to me, and I’ve only seen it in one location, near a large local hospital, perhaps blown in by the constant comings and goings of traffic. My Flora Britannica says it ‘was introduced … in the sixteenth century as a vegetable and medicinal herb, and later grown for ornament’. It certainly has very beautiful flowers.