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Sweet Pea

Annual Sweet Pea

Common Name: Sweet Pea[1]

Scientific Name: Lathyrus odoratus cv.

Sweet Peas were very popular in early American gardens and Thomas Jefferson, who desired "fragrant or beautiful flowers" for his gardens, planted "Lathyrus odoratus. sweet scented pea" in an oval flower bed near the southwest portico of Monticello in 1811.[2] This fragrant flower was first brought into cultivation by a Franciscan monk, Francis Cupani, who sent seed to England from Sicily in 1699.[3] By 1730, several color forms were known, including the lovely pink and white -€˜Painted Lady'.[4] It is a spring-flowering vine with highly scented flowers. -€˜Painted Lady' is pink and white, -€˜Prima Donna' is pale pink, -€˜Indigo King' is bluish purple, and -€˜Queen of the Isles' is red and white.


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 445. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 65-66.
  3. David Stuart and James Sutherland, Plants from the Past: Old Flowers for New Gardens (London: Penguin Books, 1989), 163. See also Alice M. Coates, Flowers and their Histories (London: Black, 1968), 137.
  4. Stuart and Sutherland, 164-165.

Further Sources


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