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Common Name: Yellow-Flowered Pea
Lathyrus aphaca is a Annual up to 0.90 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
The seed contains a toxic amino-acid which, in large quantities, can cause a very serious disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism'. The seed is said to be perfectly safe and very nutritious in small quantities[
Europe, including Britain, from Germany south and east to the Mediterranean, Iran and Afghanistan.
Dry places on sand, gravel and chalk[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good garden soil but preferring a position in full sun[
]. Plants dislike shade.
An interesting plant botanically because the true leaves have been modified into tendrils and the stipules have become leaves[
Plants climb by means of tendrils[
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.
Seed - cooked. Only use when immature, the fully ripe seed can be narcotic in large quantities[
]. The seed is harmless and nutritious when eaten in small quantities[
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
The ripe seeds are said to be narcotic[
The flowers are resolvent[
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[
]. In nature, most of the seed germinates in the autumn but many of the seedlings do not manage to survive the winter[