, 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 is
thought of as an 'insurance crop' as it produces reliable yields
when all other crops fail.
It is also known as grass pea
, blue sweet pea
, Indian pea
, white vetch
(Ethiopia), and khesari
consumption of this pulse in Italy is limited to some areas in the
middle part of the country, and is steadily declining.
sold for human consumption at markets in Florence (organic
growers) and could be procured through the company Manufactum
several years ago.
Seed ODAP characteristics
Like other grain legumes, L. sativus
seed. The seeds also contain
variable amounts of a neurotoxic amino acid β-N-Oxalyl-L-α,β-diaminopropionic
or ODAP. ODAP is considered as the cause of the disease
, a neurodegenerative
disease that causes
of the lower body: emaciation of
Gluteal muscle (buttocks). The disease has been seen to occur after
famines in Europe (France, Spain, Germany),
North Africa, South Asia, and is still
prevalent in Eritrea, Ethiopia and
Afghanistan (pan handle) when Lathyrus seed is the
exclusive or main source of nutrients for extended periods.
Research has shown that ODAP concentration increases in plants
grown under stressful conditions, compounding the problem.
Breeding programs are underway to produce lines of L.
that produce less ODAP.