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Lathyrus (sweet pea, vetchling; family Leguminosae) A genus usually of herbs that climb by leaf tendrils and commonly have 2 pairs or 1 pair of leaflets (sometimes none) on each leaf. The stems are often winged or angled. The style is flattened and bearded above. Many are cultivated for their flowers, or more rarely for the edible seeds of some species. There are about 150 species, occurring in the northern temperate zone, and in mountains of African and S. American tropics.