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Pisum sativum is often confused with:
Lathyrus odoratus Lathyrus odoratus
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Mentha x piperita Flowers
Solanum tuberosum Solanum tuberosum
Ocimum basilicum Ocimum basilicum
Pisum sativum has some common insect problems:
Pests of Beans and Peas
Pisum sativum has some common disease problems:
Damping-off in Flower and Vegetable Seedlings

Pisum sativum

Previously known as:

  • Pisum abyssinicum
  • Pisum arvense
  • Pisum sativum subsp. arvense
  • Pisum sativum subsp. elatius
Phonetic Spelling
PEES-um sa-TEE-vum
Description

The garden pea. Peas are a cool-season crop grown for their edible seed or seed pods. The pod and the seed within are a valuable food source around the world, and the flowers and young shoots can be eaten as well. In addition, peas also feed the soil by fixing nitrogen; certain varieties can be used as a cool-season cover crop for this reason, often under the name Austrian Winter Pea or Pisum arvense.

Peas grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil. It can tolerate a range of soil textures so long as it has good drainage, and it does best in a pH range of 6-7.5. While they can tolerate partial shade, they need full sun to properly develop flowers and set fruit.

Peas come in tall, vining varieties that grow peas throughout the season and shorter bush varieties that set a determinate crop all at once. Vining varieties are best grown on a trellis such as stakes and twine or a metal fence in order to minimize disease. Other varieties affect seed and pod shape– Garden peas grow round, starchy seeds and fibrous pods, snow pea pods are harvested with barely-grown seeds, and sugar snap peas have juicy green-bean like pods and almost-full seeds.

Peas are a cool-season crop and stop growing when temperatures reach 85F. In NC, this leaves a very small growth window. Plant seeds directly in the soil as soon as the ground has thawed, sometime late February to March; young plants have some frost resistance. Handle seeds gently as they damage easily and will be less likely to germinate. Seeds should be planted 1 in deep and 2-3 in apart.  Peas can also be grown in containers of a minimum size of 2 gal and depth of 12 in.  The plants often reach harvest stage in 60 days, May or June in NC.  Plantings can be staged a week apart for a longer harvest season.

Edible: 

  • Seeds are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals including iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. 
  • Flowers taste like raw peas and along with young shoots, can be added to salads.
  • NOTE:  While the flowers of the edible pea are edible, the flowers of ornamental sweetpeas Lathyrus odoratus,  are poisonous.  Do not plant them near each other where they could become confused.

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:

  • Seeds can rot or seedlings damp off if planted too early in cold, wet soil
  • Cutworms and aphids can be a problem, severing young shoots and spreading disease respectively, though the latter does not usually affect pods
  • Powdery Mildew can occur in hot weather and affect both leaves and pods
  • Root rot and fusarium wilt are common ailments that can cause roots and plants to wilt and die.  Look for resistant varieties

 

VIDEO Created by Homegrown featuring Bill Lord, former Area Specialized Agent for NC State Extension

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Hidden Vegetable Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Snow Bird'
    Snow pea variety; grown for whole pods
  • 'Sugar Snap'
    Snap pea variety; grown for the entire pod or just the peas inside
  • 'Super Sugar Snap'
    Snap pea variety; similar to 'Sugar Snap' but mildew-resistant
'Snow Bird', 'Sugar Snap', 'Super Sugar Snap'
Tags:
#purple#white#sun#full sun#small spaces#edible plant#white flowers#container plant#easy to grow#purple flowers#pink flowers#vegetable garden#groundcover#vegetable#edible garden#edible#allelopathic#cool season vegetable#container#container vegetable garden#pink#small space#fall#containers#spring
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Snow Bird'
    Snow pea variety; grown for whole pods
  • 'Sugar Snap'
    Snap pea variety; grown for the entire pod or just the peas inside
  • 'Super Sugar Snap'
    Snap pea variety; similar to 'Sugar Snap' but mildew-resistant
'Snow Bird', 'Sugar Snap', 'Super Sugar Snap'
Tags:
#purple#white#sun#full sun#small spaces#edible plant#white flowers#container plant#easy to grow#purple flowers#pink flowers#vegetable garden#groundcover#vegetable#edible garden#edible#allelopathic#cool season vegetable#container#container vegetable garden#pink#small space#fall#containers#spring
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Pisum
    Species:
    sativum
    Family:
    Fabaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Grown as green manures and cover crops
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia
    Climbing Method:
    Tendrils
    Edibility:
    Seeds, pods, flowers, and shoots can all be eaten raw, stir-fried, or cooked. Pods and seeds vary in size and edibility with variety as well as harvesting times; they are roughly divided into shelling peas (garden peas) that are harvested when the seeds are almost or completely mature and edible-pod peas (snow peas and sugar snap peas) that are harvested when the pods and seeds are young and not fully mature. Garden peas are best used immediately after picking as their sweetness quickly degrades or left to dry for long-term storage; edible-pod varieties can last in the fridge for a couple weeks. Harvest every few days. The flowers and young shoot tips (top 6 in) can also be harvested and eaten.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Ground Cover
    Vegetable
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Tendrils
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Fruit Type:
    Legume
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Dehiscent pods on short pedicels each containing multiple seeds. Seeds may be smooth or wrinkled and come in green, yellow, grey, white, or brown when mature.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Irregular
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    1-3 white, pink, or purple flowers on axillary racemes. Each flower has an irregular, distinctly pea-shaped look and ranges from 1.5-3.5cm in size (just under or over an inch). Flowers can self-pollinate.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Waxy
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Pinnately compound leaves in pairs of 1-4, tendrils at the tip. It also has large stipules up to 4 in long that hug the stems.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Small Space
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Small groups
    Problems:
    Allelopathic