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Lens culinaris - Medik.

Common Name Lentil
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 7-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range Original habitat is obscure, possibly the Mediterranean.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Lens culinaris Lentil
Lens culinaris Lentil


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lens culinaris is a ANNUAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is not frost tender. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Cleistogomy (self-pollinating without flowers ever opening). The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


L. esculenta. Moench.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked or sprouted and eaten raw[1]. A very nutritious food[171, 177], the seeds can be cooked on their own or added to soups, stews etc[183]. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 5 days[244]. They have a crunchy, fresh flavour[244]. Lentils are more digestible than many legumes[K]. The dried seed can also be ground into a powder and used with cereal flours in making bread etc[183], this greatly enhances the value of the protein in the bread. The seed stores better if it is left in its husk[200]. Young seedpods - used fresh or cooked like green beans[61, 177, 183].


Medicinal Uses

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Laxative  Poultice

The seeds are mucilaginous and laxative[240]. They are considered to be useful in the treatment of constipation and other intestinal affections[240]. Made into a paste, they are a useful cleansing application in foul and indolent ulcers[240].


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Other Uses

None known

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer


Cultivation details

An easily grown plant[K], it prefers a sandy soil in a warm sunny sheltered position[27, 37, 200]. Another report says that it does best on clay[37]. It produces most seed when grown on poorer soils[37]. Lentils are widely cultivated in warm temperate and tropical zones for their edible and very nutritious seed, there are many named varieties[183]. The plants are much hardier than is commonly supposed and many of these varieties can succeed in Britain, particularly in warm summers. There is at least one, called 'WH2040', that can withstand temperatures as low as -23°c in the seedling stage[200]. 'Chilean' is a low-growing plant that can be grown in the winter in areas where winter vegetables can be grown[183]. 'HarLen' tolerates temperatures down to -10°c and performs very well in gardens[183]. The plants take the same time as peas to mature, so lentils are a potential commercial crop for Britain[141]. Yields of up to 2 tonnes per hectare are possible[200]. The main problem with growing them as a commercial crop is that they are produced by using cheap labour in many countries which makes it very difficult for British farmers to compete on prices. However, this does not preclude their being grown in the garden and allotment. Lentils are also beneficial to grow as part of a rotation on the farm or garden. They have 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 and, if the roots are left in the ground when the seeds are harvested, this will provide a source of nitrogen for the next crop[200].


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Seed - sow early April in situ[1]. Some cultivars are probably suitable for sowing outdoors in the autumn, at least in the milder parts of the country[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Aoi mame, Bagali, Bing dou, Chanangi, Chirisanagalu, Kacang koro, Kacang serinding, Kursam bulle pullie,Lente, Lenticchia, Lentilha, Lentille, Lentja,Linse, Malka masur, Masar, Masser, Masur, Masuri, Masurmoha, Masuro, Misurpappu, Musri, Patani, Pe ni, Pothundhambala, Red Dahl, Sai min dou, Thua daeng, Thua raatcha maat, adas, adas msallam, bing dou, chanam payar, dhal|parippu, gram, lenteja, lenticchia, lentil, lentilha, lentille, lentille comestible, lentillon, lins, linse, masara, masoor, masoor paruppu, masooralu, massora, masura, masur, masura bele, masura pappu, masuri, masura (seed), pittabhe?aja, supya, vattupparupu.

Found In

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

Afghanistan, Africa, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Britain, Bulgaria, Burma, Central Europe, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, East Africa, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Europe, Fiji, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Himalayas, Hungary, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mediterranean, Middle East, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Africa, North America, Pacific, Pakistan, Philippines, Portugal, Reunion, Romania, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tasmania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, USA, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe,

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 : This taxon has not yet been assessed

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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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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

wp   Thu Jan 18 2007

Cultivars: 'HarLen' 'WH2040' Where can I get them? (I live in Austria) Can I order them somewhere over the web?

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Sat Jan 20 2007

Unfortunately, we can no longer trace a supplier of the two lentil cultivars mentioned above. If anyone is growing them, or knows of a seed source, please could they get in touch with me through this site. Many thanks.

Ruth Swanton   Sun Apr 8 2007

Has anyone ever contacted you to let you know of a supplier of lentil cultivers? I would be very interested to know as I would love to grow lentils on my allotment. Can you grow them from the lentils you buy from the supermarket?

mark   Wed May 7 2008

i recently have one sprouted lentil from the supermarket. it took about a week to germinate. i planted it in a peat pot in an aquarium about the last week of april (in central maryland). i kept it under fluorescent lights in the aquarium for about a week and placed it outside on may 7. i intend to plant more from the supermarket bag but i didnt have alot of luck with supermarket navy beans. i planted about 20 but most stopped growing or died. one has reached a height of about 18 inches and is doing well.

Amanda Rofe   Wed Oct 15 2008

B & T World Seeds sell a range of Lens culinaris seeds including Masoor, Oodham, Tarahumara Pink, Lentillon Rose de Champagne, Della val di Nievole and an organic brown sprouting lentil. Details from:

caroline   Mon Mar 30 2009

I would like information on growing lens culinaris in Zambia!

   Mar 29 2012 12:00AM

I tried lentils 5 years ago and they grew very easily in a pot. Tolerate dry and poor soil. Sprout so easily seeds from supermarket, just ensure they are entire seeds and not cut in half. I had success with the green ones. They gave many seeds, but each is surrounded by a husk, which is tedious to remove. Other than that, it was easy. Give them full sunshine, they stand cold without problem. Now I am going to try them here in Iceland, both in greenhouse and outside, now is about +5ºC average. Seems promising. The orange ones were cut in half and did not sprout.

   Aug 30 2014 12:00AM

Does anyone have info on Lens culinaris used as fodder? (Sheep, goats etc)

   Aug 30 2014 12:00AM

Does anyone have info on Lens culinaris used as fodder? (Sheep, goats etc)

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