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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - August 05, 2010

From: Grants Pass, OR
Region: Northwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Are wild sweet peas edible?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Are wild sweet peas edible? Thanks.

ANSWER:

There are several plants with the common name of sweetpea or sweet pea that are native to Oregon—Lathyrus vestitus (wild sweetpea), Lathyrus littoralis (Dune sweet pea), Lathyrus nevadensis (Sierra sweet pea), and Lathyrus pauciflorus (Steppe sweetpea).  You will note that under BENEFIT on the Lathyrus vestitus page there is a warning—"Plants in the genus Lathyrus, particularly the seeds, can be toxic to humans and animals if ingested."  The Poisonous Plants of North Carolina database says that Lathyrus spp. are "toxic only if large quantities eaten" and tells you how to prepare them so that they aren't toxic.  However, you might like to read what the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System says about Lathyrus odoratus (garden sweet pea) and Lathyrus sativus (grass pea).  The results of eating Lathyrus sativus sounds particularly nasty.  If I were you, I think I would opt on the side of caution and stick with Pisum sativum (garden pea or English pea).

 

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