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Cicer arietinum - L.

Common Name Chick Pea
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards The foliage and seedpods contain oxalic acid and can irritate the skin[33, 74, 200]. There is also one report that the foliage is poisonous[171] - this might relate to the oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can lock up certain nutrients in the diet, especially calcium, and therefore heavy use of foods that contain this substance can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Cooking will greatly reduce the oxalic acid content. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since the oxalic acid can aggravate their condition[238].
Habitats Unknown in the wild.
Range Asia? Original habitat is obscure.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Cicer arietinum Chick Pea

Cicer arietinum Chick Pea


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cicer arietinum is a ANNUAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed  Seedpod  Shoots
Edible Uses: Coffee  Drink

Seed - raw or cooked. The fresh or dried seed is cooked in soups, stews etc[2, 37, 100, 142, 171, 183]. It has a somewhat sweet flavour and a floury texture somewhat reminiscent of sweet chestnuts[K]. The mature seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw[K]. Parched seeds can be eaten as a snack[183]. The seed can also be ground into a meal and used with cereal flours for making bread, cakes etc[46, 105, 183]. The seed is a good source of carbohydrates and protein. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[27, 46, 61, 105, 183]. The roasted root can also be used[183]. Both the young seedpods and the young shoots are said to be edible[57, 61, 142, 171, 177, 183] but some caution is advised. See the notes above on toxicity. A refreshing drink can be made from the acid dew that collects on the hairy seedpods overnight[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.

An acid exudation from the seedpods is astringent[240]. It has been used in the treatment of dyspepsia, constipation and snakebite[240].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a hot sunny position[33, 37, 200], tolerating drought once established[27, 57]. Prefers a light well-drained fertile soil[33, 200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.5 to 8.6. Plants are hardy to about -25°c when covered by snow[74]. This suggests that plants can be autumn sown - some trials are called for, especially of some of the hardier cultivars[K]. The chickpea is widely cultivated in warm temperate and tropical areas for its edible seed[46, 50]. There are many named varieties, some of which should be suitable for cultivation in Britain[141]. Plants only succeed outdoors in Britain in hot summers[33, 37]. Plants are about as hardy as broad beans[141] but they often do not succeed in mild moist maritime climates because the seedpods are hairy and this holds moisture. The moisture then encourages fungal growth and the seed usually rots before it is fully mature[K]. Plants require 4 - 6 months with moderately warm dry conditions if they are to crop well[200]. 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]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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The PFAF Bookshop

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow April/May in situ under cloches. Chick peas can germinate at lower temperatures than broad beans[141]. Could an early spring or even autumn sowing outdoors be successful?

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cicer microphyllum Perennial0.2 -  LMNDM20 
Cicerbita alpinaBlue Sow ThistlePerennial1.0 4-8  LMSM21 
Lathyrus ciceraChickling Vetch, Red peaAnnual0.0 0-0  LMHNM10 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

   Tue Jun 5 2007

The young green seeds are delicious, eaten like peas or broad beans. The crop is grow in Crete, where it matures in June. I am trying it on my allotment in the North of England this year.

   Fri Feb 8 2008

In the U.S. (not sure about Britain or elsewhere), chick peas are also known as garbanzo beans... you may want to note this name under synonyms.

diab   Wed Mar 19 2008

ètiologie de la maladie Pois chiche

dr.mukesh   Tue Mar 31 2009

is cicer have any effect io cause impotency?why it is given to horces as a fodder?

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