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Grass vetchling close 800.jpg
Grass vetchling (Lathyrus nissolia)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Fabeae
Genus: Lathyrus

See text

  • Aphaca Mill.
  • Konxikas Raf.
  • Orobus L.

Lathyrus /ˈlæθɪrəs/[2] is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family Fabaceae, and contains approximately 160 species. Commonly known as peavines or vetchlings,[1] they are native to temperate areas, with a breakdown of 52 species in Europe, 30 species in North America, 78 in Asia, 24 in tropical East Africa, and 24 in temperate South America.[3] There are annual and perennial species which may be climbing or bushy. This genus has numerous sections, including Orobus, which was once a separate genus.[4]


Many species are cultivated as garden plants. The genus includes the garden sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) and the perennial everlasting pea (Lathyrus latifolius). Flowers on these cultivated species may be rose, red, maroon, pink, white, yellow, purple or blue, and some are bicolored. They are also grown for their fragrance. Cultivated species are susceptible to fungal infections including downy and powdery mildew.

Other species are grown for food, including the Indian pea (L. sativus) and the red pea (L. cicera), and less commonly cyprus-vetch (L. ochrus) and Spanish vetchling (L. clymenum). The tuberous pea (L. tuberosus) is grown as a root vegetable for its starchy edible tuber. The seeds of some Lathyrus species contain the toxic amino acid oxalyldiaminopropionic acid and if eaten in large quantities can cause lathyrism, a serious disease.[5]


Harvest of Lathyrus aphaca crop
Lathyrus latifolius 'Pink Pearl'
Lathyrus nevadensis ssp. nevadensis
Lathyrus odoratus, sweet pea mixture

Species include:[6]

Jewish law[edit]

Lathyrus can be mixed with bitter peas without violating the Jewish law of Kilayim.[8]


Lathyrus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the grey chi (Antitype chi) and the latticed heath (Chiasmia clathrata), both recorded on meadow vetchling (Lathyrus pratensis), and Chionodes braunella.


  1. ^ a b c "genus Lathyrus". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) online database. Retrieved 10 March 2017.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ Asmussen, C. B; A. Liston. (March 1998). "Chloroplast DNA characters, phylogeny, and classification of Lathyrus (Fabaceae)". American Journal of Botany. 85 (3): 387–401. doi:10.2307/2446332. JSTOR 2446332. PMID 21684923.
  4. ^ Fred, Edwin Broun; Baldwin, Ira Lawrence; McCoy, Elizabeth (1932). Root Nodule Bacteria and Leguminous Plants. UW-Madison Libraries Parallel Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-1-893311-28-2.
  5. ^ Barrow, M. V.; et al. (1974). "Lathyrism: A Review". The Quarterly Review of Biology. 49 (2): 101–128. doi:10.1086/408017. JSTOR 2820941. PMID 4601279. S2CID 33451792.
  6. ^ GRIN Species Records of Lathyrus. Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).
  7. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 511. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 22 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  8. ^ Mishnayot Kilayim 1:1

External links[edit]