Know your Grass pea - Introduction
Grass pea, Lathyrus sativus, 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.
Drought tolerant and adaptable to different soils types.
Used as a green vegetable for human consumption.
Remarkable azure blue coloured flower, near relative of the common sweet pea.
The blue colour is very rare in peas.
The plant is a bushy vine, usually growing to 2-3ft, or trailing along the ground.
It is very adaptable to varying climate conditions and can be grown in cool coastal areas as well as warm/hot arid regions, provided it receives regular water.
Know your Grass pea - Other names
English: Blue sweet pea, chickling vetch, chickling pea, Indian pea, India vetch, Lathyrus pea, blue vetchling
Danish: Agerfladbælg, Fladbælg, Dyrket fladbælg, Sædfladbælg
French: Gesse Commune, Gesse cultivée, Gesse blanche, Jarosse, Pois carré, pois breton
German: Saat-platterbse; weisse platterbse
Pakistan: Mattari, kesari
Spanish: Almorta, alverjón, muelas, titos, chícharos
Know your Grass pea - Botany
An annual climbing plant with alternate leaves composed of two lanceolate leaflets with tendrils; the flowers are axillary and alone, pink, blue or white; the pods measure 4–5 cm long and contain 2–4 wedge-shaped seeds.
All the organs of Lathyrus sativus are larger than those of Lathyrus cicera.
Different varieties and types differ in flower colour, form of growth and colour and shape of seeds.
In the Mediterranean region there are types with white flowers and seeds.
Know your Grass pea - Distribution
Common in many Asian and African countries and the Mediterranean Basin.
Being rediscovered in Italy especially in organic agriculture.
Production increasing slowly in Sicily, Marche and Apulia.
- Traditional dry legumes largely grown in India and Bangladesh.