Lathyrus alatus (Maxim.) Kom.
Orobus alatus Maxim.
Orobus komarovii (Ohwi) Stank. & Roskov
Orobus vernus alatus (Maxim.) Regel
Lathyrus komarovii is a herbaceous perennial plant with an erect, rarely-branched stem; it can grow 40 - 70cm tall[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Although no specific records of toxicity have been found for this species, the seed and other parts of many Lathyrus species contain a toxic amino acid. It is produced in the plant at about the same time that the seed starts to develop. In small quantities the amino acid is innocuous, and the seeds of several Lathyrus species are eaten as a nutritious part of the diet. However, in larger quantities (the seed should form less than 30% of a balanced diet), it can cause a very serious disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism'. Symptoms appear as a paralysis of the muscles below the knees, pains in the back, followed by weakness and stiffness of the legs and progressive locomotive incoordination[
E. Asia - Russia (eastern Siberia, Far East), northern China, Japan, Korea
Mixed and mainly broad-leaved forests in moist soils[
]. Grasslands and forests in northern China[
Species in this genus generally grow well when given a position in full sun in most, moderately fertile, well-drained soils[
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[
Seed - cooked[
]. The seedpods are 34 - 40mm long and 4 - 6mm wide, containing several small, subglobose pale green-brown seeds[
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
Young leaves and stems - cooked[
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[
Division in spring. It may not transplant well so care should be taken[