Lathyrus ochroleucus (Cream Pea)

Plant Info
Also known as: Pale Vetchling, Pale Pea, Cream Peavine
Family:Fabaceae (Pea)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; woods
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:1 to 3 foot vine
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in clusters that arise from the leaf axils, with 5 to 10 flowers in a cluster. Each flower is a typical pea shape, ½ to ¾ inch long, and creamy white to pale yellow, sometimes turning orange with age.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: compound

[photo of leaves] Leaves are compound in groups of 3 to 5 pairs, with a tendril at the end of the leaf stalk that wraps around other plants for support. Leaflets are oval to egg-shaped, 1 to 2 inches long and to 1¼ inch wide, becoming smaller at the end of the stalk. At the leaf axil is a pair of leaf-like appendages (stipules) that are generally oval, about ½ inch long and sharply pointed at the tip end. Stems are angled or round, and hairless.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a flattened pea pod about 2½ inches long, containing several seeds.


Members of the pea family can often be distinguished just by the stipules; those of L. ochroleucus are quite large compared to other species. The leaflets are also broader and rounder than most other legumes, and combined with the woodland habitat and creamy white flowers make this pretty easy to identify.

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More photos

Photos taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and Savanna Portage State Park, Aitkin County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Kenneth - Zimmerman
on: 2010-06-14 15:54:03

This plant starts flowering in early June on the Woodland Trail, a hiking loop off the Wildlife Drive, Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, Zimmerman, Minnesota.

Posted by: Dale - Douglas County, half mile NW of Evansville
on: 2012-05-20 13:58:26

I have a patch of cream pea now in bloom (5/20/2012)in an open area of our woods, 30 feet from a south lake shore. Thanks for helping me identify--we are apparently at the west edge of its range!

Posted by: Lou - Moose Lake, MN
on: 2012-06-05 13:35:42

I have seen only one. Very interesting plant.

Posted by: Linda - Hackensack
on: 2014-06-14 19:06:51

Have it growing next to an oak tree.. blossomed June 5, 2014

Posted by: Nora - Longville
on: 2014-06-26 20:27:34

Took me a while to figure out what this was, hard to locate in the local ID books. Have seen a few near Little Boy Lake in Longville, MN. In bloom the week of June 9th.

Posted by: Julia - Minnie Township NW Beltrami County
on: 2014-06-27 22:55:33

With Marilyn D Jones, moist evergreen floodplain along low maintenance road in north end of township

Posted by: Timothy J - Carlos Avery State WMA, Anoka County
on: 2017-05-25 12:54:10

Seen blooming today, 5/25/2017, in several places along trail from Camp Rd 3 NE.

Posted by: Katy - Cutfoot EF, Chippewa NF, Itasca County, MN
on: 2018-03-05 08:20:16

We had 25/324 subplots in a red pine Variable Density Thin study in the Cutfoot Experimental Forest near Max, MN with occurrences of Lathyrus ochroleucus in the summer of 2017.

Posted by: Kathy Bruzer - Hillman, MN
on: 2019-06-17 11:47:20

Seen blooming today, 6/17/2019, in several places along my wooded driveway.

Posted by: Brett W - Grams Park in Sherburne county
on: 2022-05-30 15:20:54

Blooming May 28, 2022.

Posted by: Peter Ownbey - Afton, MN
on: 2023-05-20 23:53:41

This species is quite common all over this area, but is easily overlooked early in the season. I've seen around a dozen plants around my property, and many more in wooded roadsides and backyards.

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