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What Are the Characteristics of a Pea Plant?

The image of green peas image by Mykola Velychko from

Pea plants, which are common garden peas, are scientifically known as Pisum sativum. The plants are native to Eurasia, and are part of the Fabaceae family. Pea plants are vines, and can grow to be up to six feet in height. Some bush varieties of pea plants also exist. Pea plants are hardy annuals that have been cultivated since the year 7000 B.C. Other names for pea plants include Chinese snow pea, dry pea, edible pod pea, mange-tout, Takarmany boso, sugar snap pea and erbese.


Pea plants are commonly used for food. When almost at full maturity, the seeds of pea plants are harvested. The vegetables are then consumed fresh, generally as shell peas. In some cases, the pods are allowed to mature and then used dried. Both the peas and the pod are edible. The tips are known as "pea shoots" and can also be harvested and then cooked. They are a popular dish in China. Peas are eaten as canned, frozen or fresh vegetables.


Pea plants are cool season crops. They work well between 55 and 65 degrees F. Their seeds must be closely sown. The soil must be neutral, moisture-retentive and fertile. Pea plants can be planted from the winter all the way on until the beginning of the summer, depending on the area.

Diseases and Pests

Occasionally, pea plants will experience various destructive and bothersome pests. These pests include slugs and the larvae of pea leaf weevils. Powdery mildew is a disease that could damage pea plants. Also, if seeds are planted too early in ground that is too cold, damp and moist, they can prematurely rot.


There are many different, well-known varieties of garden peas. Some of the most popular kinds of garden peas include Early Perfection, Wando, Green Arrow, Mr. Big, Alaska, Tall Telephone, Kelvedon Wonder and Little Marvel peas.


Peas contain many different nutrients. They are excellent for keeping good bone health. They are a source for vitamin K1, which activates the noncollagen protein within the bones known as osteocalcin. The plants also provide vitamin B6 and folic acid, which are both nutrients that can decrease the accumulation of a metabolic byproduct known as homocysteine, which is dangerous and can block cross-linking of collagen, which could lead to osteoporosis. Peas also have riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6, all which are essential for lipid, protein and carbohydrate metabolism. It also offers vitamin C, which defends cells in the body that produce energy from destruction that is caused by free radicals.

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