• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Perennial sweet pea - wide cross to create edible perennial pea possible?

 
R Ranson
master steward
Pie
Posts: 3462
Location: Left Coast Canada
383
books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
This is a random thought I had this morning. I'm on my way out the door in a moment but wanted to post this here to see what you thought. I haven't done the usual reading up about it yet, so it might be a flop.

I have these perennial sweet peas
that die back each year but grow up from the roots in the spring. I know it doesn't come up from seed because we are pretty ruthless with it and it gets cut down before the seeds set.

Perennials are all the rage right now.

I like eating garden peas, especially these Japanese Snow peas which make great leafy greens, eating and cooking peas and dry pulses.

Is it possible to make the tasty peas perennial? Do they exist already? Are these two plants closely related enough? The flowers are the same shape, but the stems and leaves are different. The perennial peas come up much later in the year than the annuals.

Is it worth investigating? If so, what's the idea on how to go about this breeding project.

Ultimate goal:
  • perennial
  • delicious (and nourishing) leaves, peas, and dry peas
  • climbng habbit
  • beauty
  •  
    R Ranson
    master steward
    Pie
    Posts: 3462
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    383
    books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
    • Likes 1
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Looking at the botanical names, it looks like snow pea (Pisum sativum var. saccharatum) and Perennial sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius) are pretty far apart. This makes me think it wouldn't be an easy project. But is it impossible? I don't know enough yet to say.

    In Breed your own vegetables, Deppe tells us that peas (Pisum sativum) are (my interpretation of the fancy code she uses and I'm still getting use to):

  • annuals
  • Diploid chromosome = 14
  • inbreeding plant with hermaphroditic flowers
  • subject to cross-pollination by insects, especially in an organic setting


  • There does not seem to be anything on sweet peas in that book.


    What other books are a good resources for the amateur plant breeder?
     
    Su Ba
    pollinator
    Pie
    Posts: 820
    Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
    89
    books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Everything I've read says that sweet peas are not edible, and are in fact poisonous to humans.
     
    R Ranson
    master steward
    Pie
    Posts: 3462
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    383
    books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Su Ba wrote:Everything I've read says that sweet peas are not edible, and are in fact poisonous to humans.


    That's what I've always thought too.

    Lately, I've seen suggestions that sweet peas are toxic and can be eaten by humans (and critters) in small quantities. I'm not convinced enough to try it, but it's interesting to see it written.

    Plants for the Future says:

    Although no records of toxicity have been found for this plant, the seed of some species in this genus contain a toxic amino acid that can cause a severe disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism' if they are eaten in large amounts (although small quantities are said to be nutritious)[65, 76]. Great caution is advised.



    I've been reading about wide crosses lately. A wide cross can be used to breed two distantly related (or even unrelated) plants, to produce a new and exciting kind of plant. Chances of producing a viable offspring can be minuscule at best. Even then, the offspring may not be able to reproduce. However, all it takes is one success, especially when the aim is a perennial that can be reproduced through cuttings or root segments.

    There is a lot of work being done breeding Tomatoes to their wild relatives. Many of these wild relatives are toxic or poisonous to humans, but the tomato is not. However, the wild relatives may have resistance to certain diseases or weather conditions, which makes it well worth the effort. The wide cross produces offspring that may or may be toxic/poisonous, then these offspring are back bred with domestic tomatoes until the toxin is bred out.

    If I went for this project, I would want to do something like that.

    Take the pea and the sweet pea, maybe get an offspring, then breed back to the edible pea a few generations.


    I haven't bothered to look up how I can tell if the toxin is in the pea, since I don't know if the cross would be successful or not. I suppose that would be something to learn early in the project.

    Wouldn't it be neat, though? Perennial edible pod peas that also make great dry peas. I think it's exciting.
     
    John Polk
    master steward
    Pie
    Posts: 8018
    Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
    269
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    While snow peas are not a perennial, they do quite well in warmer climates.

    I have done this in zones 7 & 8: (& told a friend in zone 6 who now says it has worked for him)
    Keep planting every +/- 2 weeks into autumn. The plants will establish roots, and some top growth until frost puts them into dormancy. They will overwinter in such a state. In the spring, they will bounce back to life. WATCH for this, as it is an indication that the soil has warmed enough to plant the spring's first rotation...but the ones that overwintered will have several weeks head start on them.

    Here, west of the Cascades, you can harvest them almost year round.

    The Chinese call them snow peas because they can lay out all winter under a blanket of snow, and begin producing in early spring once the snow has gone.
     
    R Ranson
    master steward
    Pie
    Posts: 3462
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    383
    books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    John, thanks for the idea.  This year I have a nice space to experiment with over winter growing of peas and some other plants.  I hope to experiment with planting times, starting in Sep, and then planting a section every few weeks until Christmas. 


    I'm still very interested to know if it would be possible to make a wide cross between an edible pea and a perennial sweet pea.  The perennial sweet pea has some exceptionally awesome growth characteristics I would like to see in an edible crop.  Alas, I missed the timing this year for making the cross as my edible peas are already harvested, but I'll save some seeds from the perennial and see what I can do next year. 
     
    Tyler Ludens
    pollinator
    Pie
    Posts: 8983
    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    132
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    How would you test for toxicity?

     
    David Hernick
    Posts: 54
    Location: Oakland, CA
    1
    chicken fungi trees
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    In oakland, ca also left coast, I have not had much success in prolonging the life of pea plants.  I have also had lots of trouble with powdery mildew so if have often pulled plants so not to torture the plants.

    I used to live near the Puget Sound in Washington and think the beach pea could fill the roll you are looking for.  Eating the young pods like snow peas would probably have a lower risk than eating the peas since there is likely less of that amino acid in them. I'd guess the dries pead would be the riskiest.  I am linking to a good summary of beach pea edibility
    http://arcadianabe.blogspot.com/2014/09/beach-pea-elusive-edible.html
    Since you can smell the difference once you cook then. It seems like you steam the young pod and then use them like snow peas.

    Lathyrus tuberous is a perennial pea I have been trying to grow for years, but it has never taken off. 
    Good luck!
     
    Hans Quistorff
    pollinator
    Posts: 568
    Location: Longbranch, WA
    26
    chicken goat rabbit solar tiny house wofati
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    So is the perennial sweet pea we are talking about different than the beach pea? Is it what is called giant vetch?  The beach pea pods and leaves look more like garden peas in the above cited article.

    What I am familiar with has longer pods which are much narrower. The seeds are also almost black when mature much like vetch seed. I experimented with shelling vetch seeds when young and tender in my youth but with the warning that they sere poisonous and the small size decided it was not worth it. I have never shelled a perennial sweet pea where the seeds seemed to be green and tender.
     
    R Ranson
    master steward
    Pie
    Posts: 3462
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    383
    books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Tyler Ludens wrote:How would you test for toxicity?



    That's what I'm wondering.  I've seen some people identify the toxins through taste and trial and error.  I also haven't discovered if the toxins are removed/changed with cooking.  As it looks like the toxins in the perennial sweet pea aren't terrible, I might be tempted to try them.  Maybe.  I want to learn more first.
     
    R Ranson
    master steward
    Pie
    Posts: 3462
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    383
    books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    the perennial sweet pea (Lathyrus latifolius)  looks to be a close relative of the beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus).  Both contain the same toxin which can cause harm when ingested in large amounts.  I need to do more reading on this toxin, but some sites suggest it goes away when cooked. 

    There seems to be a few plants called 'giant vetch', some seem related to perennial sweet pea, others are less related. 


    The more I think about this project, the more I'm hoping for something that can be a dry pea for soups.  I'm looking for a staple crop that can thrive in our summer conditions and these perennial sweet peas seem to do just that.  A perennial crop, with lovely deep roots, that dies back in the winter.  Now, if only it can become more edible. 
     
    Tyler Ludens
    pollinator
    Pie
    Posts: 8983
    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    132
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    I think it's important to know what kind of toxin we're talking about - is it something which simply causes gastric distress or is it something which destroys the liver?  Gastric distress will tell you about it with, yes, gastric distress.  Liver damage will happen with no symptoms until irreversible damage is done.  Toxic plants aren't something to screw around with; they can kill you, depending on the kind.

     
    R Ranson
    master steward
    Pie
    Posts: 3462
    Location: Left Coast Canada
    383
    books chicken tiny house toxin-ectomy
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    Plants for the future says

    Although no records of toxicity have been found for this plant, the seed of some species in this genus contain a toxic amino acid that can cause a severe disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism' if they are eaten in large amounts (although small quantities are said to be nutritious)[65, 76]. Great caution is advised.


    for another plant they say

    The seed contains a toxic amino-acid which, in large quantities, can cause a very serious disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism'. The seed is said to be perfectly safe and very nutritious in small quantities, but should not comprise more than 30% of the diets


    Somewhere else they mentioned that cooking may destroy the toxin that leads to lathyrism.

    Anyway, it's what I'm hoping to read up on tonight.

     
    Tyler Ludens
    pollinator
    Pie
    Posts: 8983
    Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
    132
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator

      can cause a very serious disease of the nervous system known as 'lathyrism'.


    Yikes!  That's the sort of thing I'm talking about! Don't screw around! (I know you won't)
     
    David Hernick
    Posts: 54
    Location: Oakland, CA
    1
    chicken fungi trees
    • Mark post as helpful
    • send pies
    • Quote
    • Report post to moderator
    So baker creek seeds sells lathyrus sativa as a pulse for eating:
    http://www.rareseeds.com/grande-di-alta-murgia-lathyrus-sativus/?F_Keyword=lathyrus
    the description says the following:
    "Look up recipes on the web, there are tons of ideas how to eat them. We love them, but caution that it is ill advised to eat them as your sole source of food-- as if any one food should become that!-- this is because a disease known as Lathyrysm actually exists when people only consume this pulse as a major part of their total diet! Stranger than strange. In regular amounts-- an occasional dish they are superb!"

    Maybe beach pea and Cicherchia would cross?  I might try, I found a source for beach pea seed:
    https://www.etsy.com/listing/152743991/beach-pea-vine-lathyrus-japonicus-25
     
    • Post Reply
    • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
    • New Topic