Is the Lathyrus Latifolius Edible?

Lathyrus latifolius, commonly known as perennial sweet pea, sweet pea, perennial pea and everlasting pea, is a herbaceous perennial plant in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. Although the peas of the plant resemble those of the garden pea plant (Pisum sativum), that is an annual, the perennial sweet pea plant along with its own peas can be toxic when eaten in huge quantities.

Perennial Sweet Pea Not So Sweet

Perennial sweet pea produces showy flowers in shades of pink, red and white. Unfortunately, those blooms, the plant pea pods and its seeds — that are the peas inside the pods — could be toxic if ingested. Eating them can cause a condition called lathyrism, which was named for its plant. Lathyrism causes trouble breathing, a weak, slow pulse, convulsions and paralysis, as stated by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension site. That source says the very young pods can be harvested in early summer and the peas harvested somewhat later for eating and cooking, but that consuming large amounts of them can be toxic.

Toxic to People and Animals

Perennial sweet pea contains oxalyldiaminopropionic acid, an amino acid that is poisonous to people and creatures. Besides humans, it can poison cats, dogs, horses, cattle and sheep. After ingesting parts of a perennial sweet pea plant, animals can experience symptoms like tiredness and diarrhea, and they might die, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ site.

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