Lathyrus laxiflorus

(Lathyrus laxiflorus)
Its population on Mount Paggaio is particularly large. A herbaceous plant, with stems 20-50 cm long.
Sophia Siggiridou_Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

This is a very common species in Paggaio, as we find it in various locations at all altitudes. It is mainly found in forest edges, in the understory of oak forests and forests of other deciduous broadleaves, and in shrublands.

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

Its population on Mount Paggaio is particularly large. A herbaceous plant, with stems 20-50 cm long. Its leaves are compound, each consisting of two lanceolate blades, called leaflets. At the base of their stem, there are two stipules that look very much like leaves. The flowers, in groups of 2 to 6, are butterfly-shaped, blue to violet. The fruit looks like a small bean. It flowers from May to July. It is eaten by livestock, which improves soil fertility by enriching it with nitrogen. It belongs to a plant group known as wild peas or wildflowers. Its seeds contain a large amount of lathyrine, which is responsible for a condition that causes leg paralysis. However, this toxic substance is destroyed when boiled, therefore its beans are consumed as legumes (fava of Santorini, peas), which are particularly tasty. We know from Pliny that lathouri was consumed roasted or boiled. Apart from the nutritional value, the ancients seemed to have known some healing properties of lathouri, but also some non-beneficial ones, in case they were consumed without soaking (stomach aches). Several centuries later, it was found that its continuous consumption in large quantities is associated with a neurological disease; lathyrism. Lathouri originated, according to the prevailing opinion, from Transcaucasia and southern Caspian.

Due to its relatively wide distribution on Mount Paggaio, no particular threats and pressures were observed or reported, which could lead to a significant reduction in its population.

Conservation status

Least Concern.

Conservation state

Assigned to the “LC-Least Concern” category by IUCN, which does not necessarily mean that the species is safe or should not be protected. It rather means that the species “is not in immediate extinction risk if the current conditions are maintained”.