Pea plants are a large part of diets throughout the world. They are ancient food sources that are native to Europe and Central Asia. Peas have remained popular because they are not only easy to grow and preserve but are also loaded with nutritional benefits. Today, peas are commonly served as a side dish or mixed with other vegetables.
Pea plants are usually vines that use tendrils to attach themselves to various objects for support. The tendrils come from the leaves. Pea plants create dense foliage, made up of pinnate compound leaves. The pea flower is white and has five petals that have different shapes. Some of the petals are shaped like banners and other petals are shaped like canoes. The pea plant forms pea pods that contain the peas. The pea pods are long, slightly curved and green. The pea seeds are small, round and have a light green color.
Pea plants can get as tall as 6 feet, but some pea plants form mounds of vegetation on the ground, according to Purdue University. Peas are an old food that has been consumed for thousands of years, according to The World's Healthiest Foods. Sugar snap peas have only been around since the 1970s.
In addition to traditional peas that you shell, pea plants have two alternative varieties: snow peas and the snap peas. Snow peas are a common part of Asian cooking and are consumed with the pea pod whole. Snap peas are another variant that also have edible pods, notes Purdue University. Snow and snap peas are consumed while they're immature. With traditional peas, the peas grow within the pod and are harvested later, when the peas are large.
Peas are sometimes eaten with the pod, but they are mostly shelled and eaten as peas alone. Peas are high in nutrition, and are a good source of vitamins K, C and A. They also have manganese, dietary fiber and folate. They are good for your bones, heart and overall health, according to The World's Healthiest Foods, a website that specializes in nutrition.
Like most plants, pea plants are vulnerable to root rot. Soil needs to be well drained and plants that appear to have root rot need to have the infected roots cut off the plant. Fusarium wilt and near-wilt are fungal diseases that commonly infect pea plants, causing the leaves to turn yellow and causing the plant to wilt and die. The pea plant is vulnerable to blight diseases and viruses such as pea stunt and pea streak. They are also vulnerable to mildew, according to Penn State University.