Lathyrus sativus L. (Grass pea)

Crop Type: Garden Crop

Breeding system: Predominantly autogamous

Lathyrus sativus, also known as grass pea, blue sweet pea, chickling pea, chickling vetch, Indian pea, white pea and white vetch, 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. The seeds contain a neurotoxin that causes a neurodegenerative disease when the seeds are consumed as a primary protein source for a prolonged period.

L. sativus grows best where the average temperature is 10–25 C and average rainfall is 400–650 mm per year. Like other legumes, it improves the nitrogen content of soil. The crop can survive drought or floods, but grows best in moist soils. It tolerates a range of soil types from light sandy through loamy to heavy clay, and acid, neutral, or alkaline soils. It does not tolerate shade.

The common L. sativus is a predominantly self-pollinating plant, with occasional occurrence of insect-mediated cross-pollination.

  • Basaran U, Acar Z, Onal Asci O, Mut H, Tongel O (2010) Cultivated local Lathyrus varieties in Turkey and their some agronomical traits. In: Porqueddu C (ed), Ríos S (ed). The contributions of grasslands to the conservation of Mediterranean biodiversity. Zaragoza: CIHEAM/CIBIO/FAO/SEEP, pp 129-133. (Options Méditerranéennes: Série A. Séminaires Méditerranéens; n. 92).
  • Campbell CG (1997) Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops. Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research. Gatersleben/International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome. 
  • Grela Er, Rybinski W, Klebaniuk R, Matras J (2009) Morphological characteristics of some accessions of grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) grown in Europe and nutritional traits of their seeds. Genet Resour Crop Evol.
  • Hanbury CD, White CL, Mullan BP, Siddique KHM (2000) A review of the potential of Lathyrus sativus L. and L. cicera L. grain for use as animal feed. Animal Feed Science and Technology 87: 1-27.
  • Karadag Y, Yavuz M (2010) Seed yields and biochemical compounds of grasspea (Lathyrus sativus L.) lines grown in semi-arid regions of Turkey. African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 9 (49): 8343-8348. 
  • Salim-ur-Rehman S, Sarfraz H, Haq N, Muhammad MA, Nuzhat H, Waseem AV (2007) Preparation and Quality Evaluation of Lathyrus sativus L.-bovine Milk Blend. Pakistan Journal of Nutrition 6 (2): 134-137.
  • Sharma A, Kalia M, Malhotra SR (2002) Physico-chemical Characteristics and Chemical Composition of Khesari Seeds (Lathyrus sativus). J Hum Ecol 13 (6): 471-473.
  • Tamburino R, Guida V, Pacifico S, Rocco M, Zarelli A, Parente A, Di Maro A (2012) Nutritional values and radical scavenging capacities of grass pea (Lathyrus sativus L.) seeds in Valle Agricola district, Italy. Australian Journal of Crop Science 6 (1): 149-156.
  • Urga K, Fite A, Kebede B (1995) Nutritional and anti-nutritional factors of grass pea (Lathyrus sativus) germplasms. Bull Chem Soc Ethiop 9 (1): 9-16.