Lathyrus linifolius montanus
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Common Name: Bitter Vetch
Lathyrus linifolius montanus is a Perennial up to 0.60 metres tall.
It has edible 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, but should not comprise more than 30% of the diet[
Most of Europe, including Britain, but absent in far north and rare in southeast.
Woods, hedges and thickets in hilly country avoiding chalk[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good garden soil but preferring a position in full sun[
Formerly cultivated for its edible seed[
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[
]. Used as a vegetable, they are served in the same manner as sweet chestnuts[
]. Some caution is advised in the use of this seed, see the notes above on toxicity.
Root - cooked[
]. Boiled or roasted, they have a sweet flavour and are very nutritious[
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[