Herb: Beach Pea

Latin name: Lathyrus japonicus maritimus

Synonyms: Lathyrus maritimus

Family: Leguminosae

Edible parts of Beach Pea:

The immature seeds are eaten raw or cooked like peas. Mature seeds are cooked or sprouted and used in salads. A delightful vegetable. A famine food. Very bitter. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young seedpods - raw or cooked when less than 25mm long. A sweet flavour. Young plant - raw or cooked. Use young shoots that are less than 25cm long. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Shingle beaches and sand dunes.

Propagation of Beach Pea:

Pre-soak the seed for 24 hours in warm water and then sow in early spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, then it can also be sown in situ in mid spring. Division in spring. It may not transplant well so care should be taken.

Cultivation of the herb:

Shingle beaches and sand dunes.

Medicinal use of Beach Pea:

None known

Known hazards of Lathyrus japonicus maritimus:

The seed contains a toxic amino-acid which, in large quantities, can cause a very serious disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism'. The seed is said to be perfectly safe and very nutritious in small quantities, but should not comprise more than 30% of the diet.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.