Lathyrus arizonicus Britton
Lathyrus brownii Eastw.
Lathyrus coriaceus T.G.White
Lathyrus goldsteiniae Eastw.
Lathyrus leucanthus Rydb.
Lathyrus oregonensis T.G.White
Lathyrus lanszwertii is a herbaceous perennial plant growing 20 - 80cm tall. The erect to clambering stems attach themselves to nearby vegetation by means of tendrils[
The plant is 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[
Southwestern N. America - Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, California.
Dry slopes; at elevations from 1,200 - 1,950 metres[
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[
The ripe seedpods are cooked and eaten[
]. They can be dried and stored for later use - soaking then boiling them when needed[
]. (as var leucanthus).
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.