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Lathyrus sativus L.

Brief Summary

    Lathyrus sativus: Brief Summary
    provided by wikipedia

    Lathyrus sativus, also known as grass pea, blue sweet pea, chickling pea, chickling vetch, Indian pea, white pea and white vetch, is a legume (family Fabaceae) commonly grown for human consumption and livestock feed in Asia and East Africa. It is a particularly important crop in areas that are prone to drought and famine, and is thought of as an 'insurance crop' as it produces reliable yields when all other crops fail. The seeds when the seeds are consumed as a primary protein source for a prolonged period.

Comprehensive Description

    Lathyrus sativus
    provided by wikipedia

    Lathyrus sativus, also known as grass pea, blue sweet pea, chickling pea, chickling vetch, Indian pea,[1] white pea[2] and white vetch,[3] is a legume (family Fabaceae) commonly grown for human consumption and livestock feed in Asia and East Africa.[4] It is a particularly important crop in areas that are prone to drought and famine, and is thought of as an 'insurance crop' as it produces reliable yields when all other crops fail. The seeds contain a neurotoxin that causes a neurodegenerative disease when the seeds are consumed as a primary protein source for a prolonged period.


    Lathyrus sativus grows best where the average temperature is 10–25 °C and average rainfall is 400–650 mm (16–26 in) per year. Like other legumes, it improves the nitrogen content of soil. The crop can survive drought or floods,[3] but grows best in moist soils. It tolerates a range of soil types from light sandy through loamy to heavy clay, and acid, neutral, or alkaline soils. It does not tolerate shade.[5]


    Gachas manchegas, a grass pea flour preparation

    Seed is sold for human consumption at markets in Florence. Consumption of this pulse in Italy is limited to some areas in the central part of the country, and is steadily declining.[citation needed]

    Flour made from grass peas (Spanish: almorta) is the main ingredient for the gachas manchegas or gachas de almorta.[6] Accompaniments for the dish vary throughout La Mancha. This is an ancient Manchego cuisine staple, generally consumed during the cold winter months. The dish is generally eaten directly out of the pan in which it was cooked, using either a spoon or a simple slice of bread. This dish is commonly consumed immediately after removing it from the fire, being careful not to burn one's lips or tongue.[citation needed]

    Grass pea flour is exceedingly difficult to obtain outside of Castilla-La Mancha, especially in its pure form. Commercially available almorta flour is mixed with wheat flour because grass peas are toxic if consumed in significantly large quantities for prolonged periods of time.

    The town of Alvaiázere in Portugal dedicates a festival lasting several days to dishes featuring the pulse. Alvaiázere calls itself the capital of Chícharo, the name of this pulse in Portuguese.

    Immature seeds can be eaten like green peas. L. sativus needs soaking and thorough cooking to reduce toxins.[5]

    The leaves and stem are cooked and eaten as chana saga (Odia: ଚଣା ଶାଗ) in parts of Odisha, India.

    Seed ODAP characteristics

    Lathyrus sativus seeds, dried.

    Like other grain legumes, L. sativus produces a high-protein seed. The seeds also contain variable amounts of a neurotoxic amino acid β-N-oxalyl-L-α,β-diaminopropionic acid (ODAP).[7][8] ODAP is considered the cause of the disease neurolathyrism, a neurodegenerative disease that causes paralysis of the lower body: emaciation of gluteal muscle (buttocks).[3] The disease has been seen to occur after famines in Europe (France, Spain, Germany), North Africa, and South Asia, and is still prevalent in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan (panhandle) when Lathyrus seed is the exclusive or main source of nutrients for extended periods. ODAP concentration increases in plants grown under stressful conditions, compounding the problem.

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    The crop is harmless to humans in small quantities, but eating it as a major part of the diet over a three-month period can cause permanent paralysis below the knees in adults and brain damage in children, a disorder known as lathyrism. (Kew Gardens)[3]

    Some authors have argued that this toxicity is overstated, and L. sativus is harmless as part of a normal diet.[9][10] This legume is the only known dietary source for L-homoarginine[citation needed] and is preferred over arginine for nitric oxide (NO) generation. L-ODAP is reported to act as an activator of calcium-dependent protein kinase C.

    Breeding programs

    Breeding programs are underway to produce lines of L. sativus that produce less ODAP.[11]

    Certain varieties from western Asia have a low level of the neurotoxin and breeders and farmers are now exploring this genetic diversity to develop varieties that maintain the tolerance to extreme conditions, while at the same time achieving a safe level of the toxic compound.[12]

    Crop wild relatives are prominent source of genetic material, which can be tapped to improve cultivars. ICARDA is currently evaluating crop wild relatives to explore the genes with low or no ODAP and resistant/tolerant to biotic/abiotic stresses and transfer them to cultivated grass pea.


    1. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-01-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"""""'"'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
    2. ^ "Lathyrus precatorius". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
    3. ^ a b c d Kew Gardens Lathyrus sativus (grass pea) Archived 2016-01-30 at the Wayback Machine.
    4. ^ Oudhia, P. (1999). Allelopathic effects of some obnoxious weeds on germination and seedling vigour of Lathyrus sativus. FABIS Newsletter 42:32-34.
    5. ^ a b Plants for a Future Lathyrus sativus
    6. ^ Gachas manchegas recipe (in Spanish)
    7. ^ S. L. N. Rao; P. R. Adiga; P. S. Sarma (1964). "The Isolation and Characterization of β-N-Oxalyl-L-α,β-diaminopropionic acid: A Neurotoxin from the Seeds of Lathyrus sativus". Biochemistry. 3 (3): 432–436. doi:10.1021/bi00891a022. PMID 14155110.
    8. ^ Rao, S. L. N.; Adiga, P. R.; Sarma, P. S. (1964-03-01). "The Isolation and Characterization of β-N-Oxalyl-L-α,β-Diaminopropionic Acid: A Neurotoxin from the Seeds of Lathyrus sativus*". Biochemistry. 3 (3): 432–436. doi:10.1021/bi00891a022. ISSN 0006-2960. PMID 14155110.
    9. ^ Rao, S. L. N. (2011-03-01). "A look at the brighter facets of β-N-oxalyl-l-α,β-diaminopropionic acid, homoarginine and the grass pea". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 49 (3): 620–622. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2010.06.054. PMID 20654679.
    10. ^ Singh, Surya S.; Rao, S.L.N. (2013-07-01). "Lessons from neurolathyrism: A disease of the past & the future of Lathyrus sativus (Khesari dal)". The Indian Journal of Medical Research. 138 (1): 32–37. ISSN 0971-5916. PMC 3767245. PMID 24056554.
    11. ^ "Lathyrism". Patient. EMIS Group. 2010. Retrieved 2016-09-14.
    12. ^ Grass pea, or Lathyrus, presents a fascinating paradox – it is both a lifesaver and a destroyer.



    provided by eFloras
    Cultivated as a fodder crop; human consumption of seeds is considered injurious and may even result in paralysis.
    provided by eFloras
    Glabrous to subglabrous, annual, stem winged. Leaf paripinnately compound, leaflets 2, 5-100 mm long, 1.5-11 mm broad, narrowly lanceolate to linear, stipules lanceolate, semisagittate; median and upper leaves with mostly 3-sect tendrils. Peduncle 1-flowered, 3.0-6.0 cm. Calyx 7-10 mm long, teeth subequal, 1 ½-3 times as long as the tube. Corolla red, blue or white, 12-24 mm long. Fruit 2.5-3.3 cm long, 9-12 mm broad, upper suture broadly winged, wings 1-2.5 mm wide; 3-5-seeded.
    Elevation Range
    provided by eFloras
    200-1100 m
    Physical Description
    provided by USDA PLANTS text
    Annual, Herbs, Taproot present, Nodules present, Stems or branches arching, spreading or decumbent, Stems prostrate, trailing, or mat forming, Stems less than 1 m tall, Climbing by tendrils, Stems solid, Stems or young twigs glabrous or sparsely glabrate, Stems winged or with decurrent stipules, Leaves alternate, Leaves petiolate, Stipules conspicuous, Stipules green, triangulate to lanceolate or foliaceous, Stipules persistent, Stipules free, Stipules cordate, lobed, or sagittate, Leaves compound, Leaves even pinnate, Leaf or leaflet margins entire, Leaflets opposite, Leaflets 2, Leaves glabrous or nearly so, Flowers solitary in axils, or appearing solitary, Inflorescence axillary, Bracts very small, absent or caducous, Flowers zygomorphic, Calyx 5-lobed, Calyx glabrous, Petals separate, Corolla papilionaceous, Petals clawed, Petals white, Petals pinkish to rose, Petals blue, lavander to purple, or violet, Banner petal ovoid or obovate, Banner petal suborbicular, broadly rounded, Wing petals narrow, oblanceolate to oblong, Wing petals auriculate, Wing tips obtuse or rounded, Keel tips obtuse or rounded, not beaked, Stamens 9-10, Stamens diadelphous, 9 united, 1 free, Filaments glabrous, Style flattened, Style hairy, Style hairy on one side only, Style persistent in fruit, Fruit a legume, Fruit unilocular, Fruit freely dehiscent, Fruit elongate, straight, Fruits winged, carinate, or samaroid, Fruit exserted from calyx, Valves twisting or coiling after dehiscence, Fruit glabrous or glabrate, Fruit 2-seeded, Fruit 3-10 seeded, Seeds ovoid to rounded in outline, Seed surface smooth, Seeds olive, brown, or black.