Vicia bithynica

Bithynian vetch                                                                                          Άγρια φάβα


Fabaceae - pea family                                                                                          Dicot.


This little pea plant can be found in springtime; an annual, it is often one of the first plants to start growing when the days lengthen. The plant is a typical pea plant with a brittle, slightly winged stem, paired leaflets and fine tendrils which attach to surrounding vegetation. The species is characterised by its small, purple and white flowers and a sharply toothed stipules, which are the tags at the base of a leaf, often large in pea plants.

Bithynian peas are one of the causes of anaemia known as favism, vide infra.

1.2-1.8ccm 20-50cm,,
                                          JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC

Favism (kyamismos)

& Pythagoras

“abstain from eating beans” ....Pythagoras

Peas from the Pisum genus are nutritious and delicious but potentially dangerous to susceptible individuals. They cause Favism in those who have an inherited enzyme deficiency.1,2,3 In these people, the ingestion of peas from the Pisum genus causes damage to red blood resulting in anaemia and jaundice. The active substance, vicine is found in V. bithynica as well as V. fava (the fava bean). 3

The consumption of beans was prohibited by Pythagoras,  whether it was because for medical, religious, superstitious  or cultural reasons has been debated for centuries. 3,4 It is said that he was caught and slaughtered by his enemies because he refused to cross a field of fava beans. 2

  1. 1.Luzzatto et al. Favism and Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency. NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE. 2018

  2. 2.Meletis. Favism.A brief history from the "abstain from beans" of Pythagoras to the present. Archive of Hellenic Medicine. 2012

  3. 3.Griffiths & Ramsay.The concentration of vicine and convicine in Vicia faba and some related species and their distribution within mature seeds. The Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture.1992.

  4. 4.Scarborough. Beans, Pythagoras, Taboos, and Ancient Dietetics. The Classic World. 1972.

Tyrimnus leucographus
Vicia sativa
Wild peaVicia_sativa.html