grass pea (Common name)

General poisoning notes:

Grass pea (Lathyrus sativa) has been used as a food and forage crop in Europe and Asia, where ingesting the seeds for 3-6 months can cause neurolathyrism, a syndrome characterized by muscular rigidity, weakness, and paralysis of the leg muscles. In severe cases, victims may be reduced to crawling. Young men between 20 and 30 years old are primarily affected. Livestock may also develop paralysis if they ingest grass pea for a long time. Neurolathyrism still occurs in India, where grass pea is used as flour (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Roy and Spencer 1989). Poisoning from grass pea is unlikely in Canada. However, some other Lathyrus species that occur in Canada may also contain BOAA.

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Liener, I. E. 1989. Antinutritional factors. Pages 339-382 in Matthews, R. H., ed. Legumes: chemistry, technology, and human nutrition. Marcel Dekker, Inc., New York,N.Y., USA. 934 pp.
  • Roy, D. N., Spencer, P. S. 1989. Lathyrogens. Pages 169-201 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. III. Proteins and amino acids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 271 pp.
  • Selye, H. 1957. Lathyrism. Rev. Can. Biol., 16: 1-82.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name
Lathyrus sativus L.
Vernacular name(s)
grass pea
Scientific family name
Leguminosae
Vernacular family name
pea

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Lathyrus sativus

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York,N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

Plant or plant parts used in or around the home.

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

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Toxic parts:

  • mature fruit
  • seeds

References:

  • Roy, D. N., Spencer, P. S. 1989. Lathyrogens. Pages 169-201 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. III. Proteins and amino acids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 271 pp.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

BOAA (beta-N-oxalylamino-L-alanine) is generally regarded as the cause of neurolathyrism, although the exact nomenclature is still under study. The concentration of BOAA in the seed varies from 0.1 to 2.5%. This variation may help explain the conflicting reports of toxicity (Roy and Spencer 1989).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • beta-N-oxalylamino-L-alanine

References:

  • Roy, D. N., Spencer, P. S. 1989. Lathyrogens. Pages 169-201 in Cheeke, P. R., ed. Toxicants of plant origin. Vol. III. Proteins and amino acids. CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Fla., USA. 271 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

References:

  • Selye, H. 1957. Lathyrism. Rev. Can. Biol., 16: 1-82.

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