Lathyrus incurvus Rchb.
Lathyrus macranthus (T.G.White) Rydb.
Lathyrus myrtifolius Willd.
Lathyrus occidentalis Torr. & A.Gray
Lathyrus paluster auct.
Lathyrus viciaeformis Wallr.
Orobus myrtifolius (Willd.) Hall
Orobus myrtifolius Alef.
Lathyrus nudicaulus (Willk.) Amo
Lathyrus miyabei Matsum.
Lathyrus pilosus Cham.
Common Name: Slenderstem Peavine
Lathyrus palustris is a herbaceous perennial climbing plant with scrambling, branched stems 15 - 100cm long. The stems climb into the surrounding vegetation, attaching themselves by means of tendrils[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental.
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[
Widespread - throughout Europe, northern and central Asia to Japan and Korea; sorthern N. America, south to California, Illinois, North Carolina
Fens and damp places in grass or bushes[
]. Marshes, wet meadows, a weed of rice fields; at elevations from sea level to 3,500 metres[
Lathyrus palustris is a very cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -25°c when fully dormant[
A good plant for the bog or marsh garden, succeeding in wet soils[
]. It is easily grown in any moderately good garden soil, preferring a position in full sun[
A very variable plant, several varieties are recognized[
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 fully grown seeds are shelled and cooked as a vegetable[
]. The brown seedpods are up to 70mm long and 10mm wide, containing 8 - 10 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[