The seed contains variable amounts of a neurotoxic amino acid ?-N-Oxalyl-L-?,?-diaminopropionic acid or ODAP or BOAA. ODAP is considered as the cause of the disease neurolathyrism, a neurodegenerative disease that causes paralysis of the lower body: emaciation of Gluteal muscle (buttocks). The seed is said to be safe and very nutritious in small quantities, but should not comprise more than 30% of the diet. The disease has been seen to occur after famines in Europe (France, Spain, Germany), North Africa, South Asia, and is still prevalent in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Afghanistan (pan handle) when Lathyrus seed is the exclusive or main source of nutrients for extended periods. Research has shown that ODAP concentration increases in plants grown under stressful conditions, typical at the time of the failure of other crops, compounding the problem.There have been recent successful efforts to breed hybrids of Lathyrus sativus with lower levels of the toxic amino acids to facilitate it's safe use as a famine crop.
Leaves, Shoots, Seedpods
Dried, Ground as a Flour
The mature, dried seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with wheat in a ratio of 1:3 of wheat flour to make a protein-enhanced bread. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
Material usesThere are no material uses listed for Lathyrus sativus.
Division in spring. It may not transplant well so care should be taken.
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, then it can also be sown in situ in mid spring.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good garden soil but preferring a position in full sun. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
When the seedpods begin to dry, they can be picked or the entire plant can be harvested and left to dry. Once dried, they should be shelled to remove the seed for storage.
The seed, once dried, can be stored for a number of years.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Lathyrus sativus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Lathyrus sativus.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
- Leaves Shoots Seedpods (Vegetable)
- Seed (Vegetable Legume Protein)
- Seed (Flour)
- Seed (Vegetable)
- Oil (Cathartic)
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