Herb: Chickling Pea
Latin name: Lathyrus sativus
Medicinal use of Chickling Pea:The oil from the seeds is a powerful and dangerous cathartic.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Found as a weed of cultivated land though this is as a relict of cultivation, the plant is not known in a truly wild state.
Edible parts of Chickling Pea:The immature seed can be eaten like green peas. The mature seed is eaten cooked. It needs to be soaked and well cooked before being eaten. The seed can also be ground into a powder and mixed with wheat in a ratio of one part vetch to 3 parts of wheat flour to make a protein-enhanced bread. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Young seedpods - cooked. Young shoots - cooked.
Other uses of the herb:The plant has an extensive root system and fixes atmospheric nitrogen through bacteria that live on the roots. It makes a good soil-enriching green manure crop or can be planted for erosion control.
Propagation of Chickling 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:Found as a weed of cultivated land though this is as a relict of cultivation, the plant is not known in a truly wild state.
Known hazards of Lathyrus sativus: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.