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Hedysarum alpinum - L.

Common Name Alpine Sweetvetch
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Please read The New Yorker link in the Reader Comments below
Habitats Calcareous rocks and gravelly soils, north to Alaska[43]. Swampy meadows and swamps in China[266].
Range N. America. to N. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Hedysarum alpinum Alpine Sweetvetch


http://flickr.com/photos/91314344%40N00
Hedysarum alpinum Alpine Sweetvetch
http://flickr.com/photos/91314344%40N00

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Hedysarum alpinum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen in August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

H. americanum. H. boreale. Hort. non Nutt.

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root.
Edible Uses:

Root - raw or cooked[61, 177]. A carrot-like flavour[105]. The root can be harvested from autumn until spring, it tastes best after some frosts[172]. Possibly toxic. ** Please read The New Yorker link in the Reader Comments below

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

Easily grown in ordinary garden soil in a sunny position, preferring a deep well-drained sandy loam[1, 200]. Plants strongly resent root disturbance and should be placed in their permanent positions as soon as possible[1]. The var. H. alpinum americanum. Michx. is used for food[61, 177]. 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].

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Propagation

Seed - sow in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe or in the spring[200]. Stored seed should be pre-soaked for 24 hours in warm water. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring. Great care is needed since the plant dislikes root disturbance[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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 NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Hedysarum arcticum 20
Hedysarum borealeSweet Vetch, Utah sweetvetch, Northern sweetvetch40
Hedysarum boreale mackenziiLiquorice Root40
Hedysarum hedysaroidesAlpine French Honeysuckle30
Hedysarum occidentaleLiquorice Root, Western sweetvetch40
Hedysarum sachalinense 20
Hedysarum vicioides 20

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

43200266

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

h. smith   Wed Nov 23 2005

this plant (seed pods) was implicated in one death. See final chapters of the book: Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer

Steve Dupey   Sat Dec 3 2005

One source suggested the above fatality might have been from mistakenly consuming Hedysarum mackenziie seeds, which is supposed similar to alpinum, but I wouldn't consume seeds of either.

anonymous   Wed Jan 6 2010

the seeds of this plant become poisonous in the summer. Be careful of it! The best thing is to avoid at least the seeds. Christopher McCandless died especially because of them.

Wikipedia poisonous seeds...

New research regarding possible toxicity of Hedysarum alpinum   Sep 16 2013 12:00AM

The New Yorker

An article suggesting that the seeds of this plant are toxic, even deadly if too many are consumed. This information should be incorporated into the main text.   Nov 25 2013 12:00AM

The New Yorker

The long debunking of Krakauer's theory, e.g. the article in the New Yorker. Read the last passages if you just want to learn about the most recent theory of Krakauer (there have been numerous, all seemingly proven false).   Sep 28 2015 12:00AM

Forager's Harvest

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