Herb: Earthnut Pea

Latin name: Lathyrus tuberosus

Family: Leguminosae

Edible parts of Earthnut Pea:

Root - cooked or raw. Sweet and starchy, it is delicious when baked with a flavour that is somewhat like a sweet potato. Taste trials consistently place this root very highly, it is certainly one of our favourites. Unfortunately, yields are rather low and so the plant is only worthwhile growing as a taste treat, not as a staple crop.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

to July

Habitat of the herb:

Cornfields and hedgerows, avoiding acid soils.

Propagation of Earthnut 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 of the tubers when the plant is dormant in spring or autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Cornfields and hedgerows, avoiding acid soils.

Medicinal use of Earthnut Pea:

None known

Known hazards of Lathyrus tuberosus:

Although no records of toxicity have been found for this plant, the seed of some species in this genus contain a toxic amino acid that can cause a severe disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism' if they are eaten in large amounts (although small quantities are said to be nutritious). Great caution is advised.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.