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Know your Grass pea

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. 
  • Grow as an annual. 

Know your Grass pea - Other names

  • English: Blue sweet pea, chickling vetch, chickling pea, Indian peaIndia vetch, Lathyrus pea, blue vetchling 
  • Danish: Agerfladbælg, Fladbælg, Dyrket fladbælg, Sædfladbælg
  • Ethiopia: Guaya
  • French: Gesse Commune, Gesse cultivée, Gesse blanche, Jarosse, Pois carré, pois breton 
  • German: Saat-platterbse; weisse platterbse 
  • India: Khesari
  • Italy: Cicerchia 
  • 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.