Sunday, July 19, 2015

Grass pea (খেসারী কলাই) - Lathyrus sativus

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Bengali Name : Kheshari Kolai (খেসারি কলাই), Kheshari Kalai (খেসারী কালাই)
Common Name : Grass pea, Blue sweet pea, Chickling vetch.
Botanical Name : Lathyrus sativus
Family : Fabaceae (pea family)

Flower of Grass pea (খেসারী কলাই ফুল).

Today I am going to introduce another flower that belongs to the cultivated crops in Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ). It is mainly a winter crop here in Bangladesh (বাংলাদেশ). I have seen this crop has been cherished around the sandy soil in our country where other crops struggle to survive.

It is known as Grass pea, Blue sweet pea, Chickling vetch, Indian vetch, etc in general. The binomial name of this crop plant is Lathyrus sativus and belongs to the plant family Fabaceae. In Bengali (বাংলা) we use to call this as Khesari Kolai (খেসারি কলাই). This plant is native to Indian region but grows well in Africa too.

Grass pea is an annual crop plant grows as bushy by trailing and crawling around the ground. Slender grass-like leafs are alternately arranged with having terminal tendrils. On the cultivated field it looks like a mile after mile of grass field. This highly drought tolerance plant doesn't need that much care to grow.

Upper side of the petal is pinkish in color. Also notice the bract.

Typical small pea like flowers are strikingly blue. Upper side of the petal is having a pinkish color. Deep vein on the petal is visible. Both male and female organ exist inside the same flower (hermaphrodite). The bract of the flower looks like a funnel with a shape of star. Fruits are pod like and having 3-5 seeds.

Grass pea (খেসারী কলাই) is a pulse crop and the seeds are being used in several dishes. One such is the traditional Daal (ডাল), a soup like recipe that is popular in this Indian subcontinent. Also a handmade bread named Kolai ruti (কলাই রুটি) is made from from the flour of the seeds. Seeds provide a great amount of protein for both human and the domestic animals.

Though the seeds are palatable and full with nutrient, but consuming too much seeds as a diet (more than 30% of total diet) can be fatal for the human. That means you can not rely on this entirely. That can cause Lathyrism and can make you cripple or paralyzed. Previously this was one of the main crops in Bangladesh, but after the spread of that news the cultivation had stopped long time ago. Now a days farmers cultivate this on a very small scale.

Deep vein is visible on the petals.

Human can use the plant as a vegetable and can be consumed after frying. Also the domestic animals can take the plant as well. But both cases the quantity is a factor as it contains toxins. Another benefit of the plant is to use it as a crop rotation plant. It can return back the fertility to the soil that has declined due to cultivating the same crop again and again.

Photos of this article were taken from Bangladesh as mentioned location:
1) 23 January 2015: Near Dhaleswari river, Munsiganj (মুন্সিগঞ্জ).

This article has written by Lonely Traveler,
for the blog

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