Did you know that Sweetpeas (Lathyrus odoratus) are poisonous?

Poisonous parts: All parts, especially the seeds.

Source: NSW DPI (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries), Annie Johnson and Stephen Johnson, “Garden plants poisonous to people”, pdf file, https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/112796/garden-plants-poisonous-to-people.pdf, page 9, accessed 20 February 2023.

For that reason I won’t be growing them in our Kitchen Garden area again.

There are three reasons.

One: It’s not that we don’t know that they are poisonous, we all do, but it is easy to forget when any of us are harvesting veg for dinner, end of a big full day, tired. We did grow some on a tee pee this year in the Herb Garden and while we all remembered they are poisonous, I did need to keep reminding Michael, and that is totally ok. I sincerly mean that – he can’t be expected to remember everything, none of us can. I certainly don’t remember everything about Michael’s work. Please don’t ask me what the difference is between concrete and cement, Michael has been trying to teach me that for years and I still forget!

Two: Taking the sweet peas out of our Herb Garden will leave more room for edible food. Which to be honest, I did make a big speech to Michael and Lil that there would be no more flowers in the edible food growing areas. Yes, you know me well, I can’t help it when it comes to flowers.

Three: The sweetpeas started hanging over the fence even though I left one metre room between the tee pee and the fence. Bluebell our Spoodle, who is very curious but easily trained, did go to taste test them and so did our hens – so it was a worry keeping those free willed sweet pea tendrils on their side of the fence and not spilling over into the pathway.

I wasn’t aware that sweetpeas were toxic until it came up in conversation one day with a flower farmer friend. She had to take her dog to the emergency vet after her dog had sweetpeas in its mouth – causing her dog to become lethargic and start vomitting. I won’t go into anymore detail, if you are interest in learning more, google “sweetpeas toxic”, there are so many reputable sites with information.

Next year, the sweetpeas will be in another part of our garden away from curious dogs, hens and ducks. Keeping sweet pea tendrils on the right side of the fence away from pets will be one less thing to worry about, and don’t we all need less things to worry about?!

* I know that there are lots of plants that are toxic to humans and I do generally have a very relaxed approach to them being in the garden but I have a very strict overall policy of:

If you can’t confidently id a plant or if  you don’t know if it is safe DO NOT EAT IT!

Followed by using a good dose of commonsense and the usual safety precautions.

Sweet peas are far too gorgeous not to grow and I can’t wait to try some new-to-me varieties next year. I’m like a kid in a candy shop when it comes to plant, bulb and seed catalogues. What about you?

Happy gardening,

Jude x


Where to grow Sweetpeas.

February 21, 2023



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