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Lathyrus tuberosus - L.                
                 
Common Name Earthnut Pea, Tuberous sweetpea
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
Synonyms
Known Hazards 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)[65, 76]. Great caution is advised.
Habitats Cornfields and hedgerows, avoiding acid soils[17].
Range Europe to W. Asia. Naturalized in Britain in a very few sites in E. England.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Lathyrus tuberosus is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen in August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It can fix Nitrogen.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : 5-9


Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Lathyrus tuberosus Earthnut Pea, Tuberous sweetpea


Lathyrus tuberosus Earthnut Pea, Tuberous sweetpea
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedgerow;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - cooked or raw[2, 27, 46, 61, 105]. Sweet and starchy, it is delicious when baked with a flavour that is somewhat like a sweet potato[183, K]. Taste trials consistently place this root very highly, it is certainly one of our favourites[K]. Unfortunately, yields are rather low and so the plant is only worthwhile growing as a taste treat, not as a staple crop[K].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.



None known
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
An easily grown plant, succeeding in any moderately good garden soil[200]. It prefers a limestone soil in a warm position[13], and likes some shade[1]. A climbing plant, scrambling through other plants and supporting itself by tendrils[219]. It tends to be slightly invasive[187] with new stems emerging at some distance from the parent plant[219]. The earthnut pea has occasionally been cultivated for its edible root[2, 183]. Slugs are inordinately fond of this plant and will totally destroy it given a chance[K]. 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[200].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a cold frame[200]. 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[200]. Division of the tubers when the plant is dormant in spring or autumn.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
17200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[13]Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[27]Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden.
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[219]Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.

Readers comment                                         
 
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Subject : Lathyrus tuberosus  
             

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