Lathyrus tuberosus

Lathyrus tuberosus
flowers and flower buds
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Vicieae
Genus: Lathyrus
Species: L. tuberosus
Binomial name
Lathyrus tuberosus

Lathyrus tuberosus, also known as the tuberous pea, tuberous vetchling,[1] earthnut pea, or aardaker, is a small, climbing perennial plant, native in moist temperate parts of Europe and Western Asia. The plant is a trailer or weak climber, supported by tendrils, growing to 1.2 m tall. The leaves are pinnate, with two leaflets and a branched twining tendril at the apex of the petiole. Its flowers are hermaphroditic, pollinated by bees. The plants can also spread vegetatively from the root system.


Lathyrus tuberosus is a perennial plant with edible tubers 3 to 5 cm (1.2 to 2.0 in) long attached to its roots. The stem grows to 30 to 80 cm (12 to 31 in) and is sprawling, wingless and nearly hairless. The leaves are alternate with short stalks and narrow stipules. The leaf blades are pinnate with a single pair of broad lanceolate leaflets with blunt tips, entire margins and a terminal tendril. The inflorescence has a long stem and two to seven pinkish-red flowers, each 12 to 20 mm (0.5 to 0.8 in) long. These have five sepals and five petals and are irregular, with a standard, two wings and a fused keel. There are ten stamens and a single carpel. The fruit is a flat brown pod containing up to six seeds. This plant flowers in July and August.[2]

Distribution and habitat

Lathyrus tuberosus is native to Europe and parts of western Asia. Its typical habitat is rough grassy places, broad-leaved woodland, forest margins, hedgerows and banks.[2]

Cultivation and uses

Lathyrus tuberosus is occasionally grown as a root vegetable for its edible tuber and has been cultivated at least since the 17th century.[2] The sweet, starchy tubers are edible cooked or raw. Although palatable and nutritious, the crop is hampered by low productivity.

The plant is attractive and susceptible to slugs but is considered a noxious weed in Ontario.[3]


  1. Tuberous Vetchling, Ontario Wildflowers
  2. 1 2 3 "Tuberous pea: Lathyrus tuberosus". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-31.
  3. Tuberous vetchling, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
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