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Maple Leaves



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Maple Leaves

Notes on poisoning: Lathyrus sativus

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.


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.

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Date modified: 2009-09-01