Know your Asparagus pea - Introduction
- The Asparagus Pea (Lotus tetragonolobus) is a tropical legume plant native to Papua New Guinea.
- It grows abundantly in hot, humid equatorial countries, from the Philippines and Indonesia to India, Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
- It does well in humid tropics with high rainfall. There are also varieties that can be grown in most areas of Europe and USA.
- This unusual vegetable has a unique flavour, a bit like a cross between tender asparagus and fresh young peas.
- Asparagus Pea is a very pretty plant which looks as good in the flower border as it does in the vegetable plot.
Know your Asparagus pea - Cultivation
- The plant is one of the best nitrogen fixers with nodulation accomplished by the soil bacterium Rhizobium.
- Because of its ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, the plant requires very little or no fertilizers.
- Being a tropical plant, it is sensitive to frost.
- Most plants will not flower if the day length is less than 12 hours, although day length neutral cultivars do exist.
- It is very easy to grow and does not require any support.
- They prefer a light, well-drained soil in a sunny position and regular watering.
- As a member of the legume family, the roots of the plant will fix extra nitrogen into the soil, making it ideal for brassicas the following year.
Know your Asparagus pea - Harvesting
- The small winged pods should be harvested when young, giving a superb flavour akin to Asparagus.
- The plant will crop all summer long if picked regularly.
- They have brilliant scarlet flowers and need no staking, but the pods are well camouflages and 'hunt the pod' is a fun game for the children.
Know your Asparagus pea - Culinary Use
- The young seedpods can be used in the kitchen either raw or cooked. They can be added to salads, lightly steamed as a vegetable and served with a little melted butter, or added to soups, stews etc. The taste is said to resemble asparagus.
- Only the very young pods, when less than 2cm (1in) long, should be used, since the older pods quickly turn fibrous.
- No flavouring should be used as this will destroy its own delicious taste.
- The seedpods of this vegetable are considered by many to be a gourmet food, though it is not a very high yielding crop.
- In addition, the seed can be cooked and used like peas.
- The roasted seed is said to be used as a coffee substitute, but we have no experience or confirmation of that use.