Woody Peas & Beans

Judas Tree Black Locust Common Restharrow Black Locust

What are they?

This is a rather varied group of plants that are drawn together by being pink or white-flowered members of the pea family that are perennial and have woody stems. The group includes true trees with obvious trunks, down to creeping subshrubs whose woody bases may be difficult to discern without close scrutiny. Plants in the latter group may appear not to have woody bases and are therefore also included on other pages covering pink-flowered peas.

Where are they found?

The varied nature of this group means that it includes species from a wide range of habitats, but most are plants of grassy places or, in the case of the larger species, of garden origin and therefore most likely to be found in human-influenced habitats.

Identification

In general, most species can be told by flower colour, coupled with details of the seed pods and leaves. The Restharrows require closer scrutiny so be sure to read the texts for each species carefully.



Judas Tree      Cercis siliquastrum

Introduced from southern Europe. Popular as a garden ornamental but rarely seeding in our climate and likely only to be found as a surviving, planted tree, or a relic of former cultivation. Flowers May. A small to medium-sized tree with alternate, rounded leaves. When in flower, this species is truly spectacular as flowers emerge direct from the older branches and even the trunk, to give a sensational display in pinkish purple. The brown seed pods hang on the tree through the winter and can be very conspicuous.

Judas Tree Judas Tree Judas Tree Judas Tree
Habit
Flowers
Flowers
Leaves
Judas Tree Judas Tree Judas Tree Judas Tree
Leaf
Seed pods
Winter bud
Bark


Black Locust      Robinia pseudoacacia

(False-acacia). Introduced from North America. Popular as a garden ornamental but rarely seeding in our climate and likely only to be found as a surviving, planted tree, or a relic of former cultivation. Flowers June. A small to medium-sized tree with pinnate leaves. The clusters of white flowers are conspicuous but short-lived. Young trees and basal suckers on older trees carry stout spines.

Black Locust Black Locust Black Locust Black Locust
Flowers
Flowers
Leaf
Leaflets
Black Locust Black Locust Black Locust Black Locust
Seed pods
Juvenile twig
Adult twig
Bark


Common Restharrow      Ononis repens

Native. Widespread in a wide range of grassy places on chalk, boulder clay and coastal sands. Flowers June to September. A low-growing subshrub to 60cm in height with densely glandular hairy stems, the hairs distributed all around the stems. Leaves have three leaflets but may consist of a single, simple blade on upper parts of the plant. Occasionally the stems may bear a few spines. The pink and white flowers have the wings as long as the keel. Coastal forms are more prostrate and more glandular-hairy and are often referred to as subspecies maritima

Common Restharrow Common Restharrow Common Restharrow Common Restharrow
Habit
Flower
Flower
Leaf


Spiny Restharrow      Ononis spinosa

Native. Widespread on the boulder clay of south Norfolk and central Suffolk but uncommon or absent elsewhere. Flowers June to September. A low-growing but erect subshrub to 70cm in height with glandular hairy stems, the hairs distributed discreetly in one ore two narrow rows on the stems. Leaves have three leaflets but may consist of a single, simple blade on upper parts of the plant. The pink and white flowers have the wings shorter than the keel. The stems typically bear obvious, straw-coloured spines.

Spiny Restharrow Spiny Restharrow Spiny Restharrow Spiny Restharrow
Habit
Flower
Leaf
Spine