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Lathyrus linifolius montanus - (Bernh.)Bässler.

Common Name Bitter Vetch
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards The seed contains a toxic amino-acid which, in large quantities, can cause a very serious disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism'. The seed is said to be perfectly safe and very nutritious in small quantities, but should not comprise more than 30% of the diet[65, 76].
Habitats Woods, hedges and thickets in hilly country avoiding chalk[17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, but absent in far north and rare in southeast.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Lathyrus linifolius montanus Bitter Vetch

Lathyrus linifolius montanus Bitter Vetch


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lathyrus linifolius montanus is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. 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) and is pollinated by Bees.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


L. macrorrhizus. L. montanus. Orobus tuberosus.


Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root  Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked[2, 177]. Used as a vegetable, they are served in the same manner as sweet chestnuts[2]. Some caution is advised in the use of this seed, see the notes above on toxicity. Root - cooked[5, 61, 105]. Boiled or roasted, they have a sweet flavour and are very nutritious[2, 115].

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 but preferring a position in full sun[200]. Formerly cultivated for its edible seed[2]. 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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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 in spring. It may not transplant well so care should be taken[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
Lathyrus alatus 10
Lathyrus aphacaYellow-Flowered Pea11
Lathyrus ciceraChickling Vetch, Red pea10
Lathyrus davidii 10
Lathyrus japonicusBeach Pea, Smallflower beach pea20
Lathyrus japonicus maritimusBeach Pea20
Lathyrus latifoliusPerennial Sweet Pea, Perennial pea10
Lathyrus nervosusLord Anson's Pea20
Lathyrus ochroleucasCream Peavine11
Lathyrus ochrusCyprus Vetch10
Lathyrus odoratusSweet Pea, Wild Pea,Vetchling10
Lathyrus ornatusBush Vetchling11
Lathyrus palustrisSlenderstem Peavine, Marsh pea10
Lathyrus polymorphusManystem Peavine, Hoary pea10
Lathyrus pratensisMeadow Vetchling01
Lathyrus quinquenervius 10
Lathyrus sativusChickling Pea, White pea21
Lathyrus tuberosusEarthnut Pea, Tuberous sweetpea50


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Thu Dec 20 2007

This species is found in Croatia, though I do not know how common it is there. Seed can be obtained from B&T World Seeds at http://www.b-and-t-world-seeds.com/

max markovic   Tue Dec 11 2007

are there any records of Lathyrus linifolius montanus whic woul place it in area of nowdays Croatia? if not, there is a fair chance to grow it here since the soil and temperature requirements are satisfactory. how on earth am I going to get in possesion of some seeds to make this experiment?

Kristina Patmore   Thu Mar 6 2008

See link for some exciting new research being done on L. linifolius as a potential anti-obesity drug. Apparently it was used as an appetite suppressant after crop failure in medieval times, so at least one very important potentially medicinal use.

Mail on Sunday article (most detailed report currently available)

sue   Thu Mar 6 2008

why are there no images onn this site? it would be very useful

Carissa Pittman   Tue Mar 11 2008

Is there another place to purchase seeds for lathyrus linifolius? The B & T no longer stocks these seeds.

carol caraway   Thu May 8 2008

how can one purchase the seeds for this plant?

Dr. Wayne Caraway   Fri May 9 2008

BT world Seeds does not have lathyrus linifolius montanus. Does anyone have a source?

Steve   Mon Mar 2 2009

Extreme Invasiveness reported here:http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/602/ This plant should not be introduced anywhere and this may be why B&T doesn't carry it. Also, since the plant is quite common where it is grown, and these reports of interest in it as a diet agent stem from 2005 or earlier, I wouldn't hold out much hope for its efficacy. Surely plenty of people have had time to experiment with it by now, and I don't hear anything about corroboration of those claims.

This site is searching for seeds to this plant. You can sign up to be notified when they find them.   Mar 6 2014 12:00AM

Per this link (http://b-and-t-world-seeds.com/cartall.asp?species=Lathyrus%20linifolius%20v%20montanus&sref=28749), b-and-t-world-seeds.com does not have this plant. They are asking if you know where they can find seeds to let them know: Lathyrus linifolius v montanus is included in the following B and T World Seeds flowering plant categories. 2 : Wants We are looking for seeds from this plant, if you know where we can find seeds or would like to be told when we have a source, please let me know.

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