Chick Pea (Cicer arietinum)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Chick Pea
Cicer arietinum
Leguminosae

None known

  • Medicinal Use

    An acid exudation from the seedpods is astringent[240]. It has been used in the treatment of dyspepsia, constipation and snakebite[240].

  • Edible Use

    Seed – raw or cooked. The fresh or dried seed is cooked in soups, stews etc[2, 37, 100, 142, 171, 183]. It has a somewhat sweet flavour and a floury texture somewhat reminiscent of sweet chestnuts[K]. The mature seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw[K]. Parched seeds can be eaten as a snack[183]. The seed can also be ground into a meal and used with cereal flours for making bread, cakes etc[46, 105, 183]. The seed is a good source of carbohydrates and protein.

    The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[27, 46, 61, 105, 183]. The roasted root can also be used[183].

    Both the young seedpods and the young shoots are said to be edible[57, 61, 142, 171, 177, 183] but some caution is advised. See the notes above on toxicity.

    A refreshing drink can be made from the acid dew that collects on the hairy seedpods overnight[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The foliage and seedpods contain oxalic acid and can irritate the skin[33, 74, 200]. There is also one report that the foliage is poisonous[171] - this might relate to the oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can lock up certain nutrients in the diet, especially calcium, and therefore heavy use of foods that contain this substance can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Cooking will greatly reduce the oxalic acid content. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since the oxalic acid can aggravate their condition[238].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow April/May in situ under cloches. Chick peas can germinate at lower temperatures than broad beans[141]. Could an early spring or even autumn sowing outdoors be successful?
Requires a hot sunny position[33, 37, 200], tolerating drought once established[27, 57]. Prefers a light well-drained fertile soil[33, 200]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.5 to 8.6. Plants are hardy to about -25¡c when covered by snow[74]. This suggests that plants can be autumn sown – some trials are called for, especially of some of the hardier cultivars[K]. The chickpea is widely cultivated in warm temperate and tropical areas for its edible seed[46, 50]. There are many named varieties, some of which should be suitable for cultivation in Britain[141]. Plants only succeed outdoors in Britain in hot summers[33, 37]. Plants are about as hardy as broad beans[141] but they often do not succeed in mild moist maritime climates because the seedpods are hairy and this holds moisture. The moisture then encourages fungal growth and the seed usually rots before it is fully mature[K]. Plants require 4 – 6 months with moderately warm dry conditions if they are to crop well[200]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Asia? Original habitat is obscure.

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.