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Common Name: Earthnut Pea
Lathyrus tuberosus is a Perennial up to 1.20 metres tall.
It has edible uses.
Although no records of toxicity have been found for this plant, the seed of some species in this genus contain a toxic amino acid that can cause a severe disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism' if they are eaten in large amounts (although small quantities are said to be nutritious)[
]. Great caution is advised.
Europe to W. Asia. Naturalized in Britain in a very few sites in E. England.
Cornfields and hedgerows, avoiding acid soils[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good garden soil[
]. It prefers a limestone soil in a warm position[
], and likes some shade[
A climbing plant, scrambling through other plants and supporting itself by tendrils[
]. It tends to be slightly invasive[
] with new stems emerging at some distance from the parent plant[
The earthnut pea has occasionally been cultivated for its edible root[
Slugs are inordinately fond of this plant and will totally destroy it given a chance[
A good bee plant.
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[
Root - cooked or raw[
]. Sweet and starchy, it is delicious when baked with a flavour that is somewhat like a sweet potato[
]. Taste trials consistently place this root very highly, it is certainly one of our favourites[
]. Unfortunately, yields are rather low and so the plant is only worthwhile growing as a taste treat, not as a staple crop[
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 of the tubers when the plant is dormant in spring or autumn.