The Siberian pea tree is a deciduous shrub that can grow up to 20' tall but in practice seldom exceeds about 10'. It produces a lentil-size edible seed that can be used in all the ways that lentils are used and has a great potential as a perennial legume in Britain.
A very undemanding plant, it succeeds in most well-drained soils, preferring full sun and light sandy dry or well-drained conditions. It tolerates very alkaline soils and will also do well in very poor conditions and on marginal land. This is because it 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. Thus this is a very good companion plant in woodland and other integrated plantings.
A very cold-tolerant plant, it can withstand extremely cold temperatures. It prefers a continental climate with long hot summers and cold fairly dry winters, and does not grow so well in areas that do not have very cold winters. Thus it grows and fruits very well in the eastern half of the country, even in northern areas, though it does not do so well in the wetter west. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun.
The Siberian Pea tree is sometimes grown as a hedge, it is fairly wind-resistant and so can be used to provide some shelter - though it is fairly bare in the winter and will not provide so much shelter at this time. The plant has an extensive root system and so has also been used for erosion control, especially on marginal land where its ability to enrich the soil with nitrogen will encourage the growth of other plants.
Seed needs to be pre-soaked for about 24 hours in warm water, by which time it should have swollen considerably, and can then be sown in a cold frame in the spring. Germination usually takes place within 2 - 3 weeks and plant should be ready for planting out in the following spring. They should start to crop by the time they are 5 - 8 years old.