What are the different types of pea plant? (with photos)

Green peas.

Gardeners can choose pea plants for the food they produce, or other types of pea plants for their flowers and plentiful, attractive scent. Some pea plants in the garden produce bright flowers before they bear fruit. Generally classified as a vegetable, the pea is technically a fruit. Commonly used in cooking, peas are scientifically known as Pisum sativum.

Pigeon peas come from humid tropical regions.

Pea Pisum sativum is a low-temperature annual plant with a one-year growing season and maturation within 60 days of planting. The pea is a self-pollinating plant and does best in a home garden made of sandy, well-draining, slightly alkaline soil. Pea plants should be placed in full sun for maximum growth.

There are two notable variations of the common pea: the pea and the sweet pea. Peas are scientifically known as Pisum sativum v. Saccharatum. Fresh peas differ from typical peas in that the pods have a whitish hue as opposed to the typical green. Peas grow best in late winter and can survive heavy snowfall, hence the name.

Sugar peas are known as Pisum sativum v. Macrocarpon. Some pea varieties appear as a bush; Snap snap cultivars grow like a pea vine. Sugar peas require support in the form of a trellis or other climbing system to thrive. Sugar peas are more adaptable than other types of peas because they can grow at higher temperatures than other types of peas.

Some edible crops are named after peas, but they are not directly related to peas. Vigna unguiculata, or cow pea, is a drought-tolerant food crop that, unlike garden pea, is grown in hot, dry subtropical regions of the world. Like peas, cowpea is a legume and produces seeds in a pod. Cowpea pods have a different shape and color than garden peas; cowpea pods are longer and paler in color.

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Pigeonpea, Cajanus cajan, is a legume grown in humid tropical areas of the world. Used as a food crop, pigeon peas bear little resemblance to their garden cousins. This type of pea is a perennial plant that does not grow into the shrub or vine type seen in most peas; pigeon pea grows on small trees at maturity.

Not all garden plants called peas are real peas. The sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus, is an annual flowering vine. Sweet pea vines are typically grown for their flowers rather than their value as a crop. Like their edible namesakes, sweet pea flowers produce seed pods. Sweet peas, unlike real peas, are potentially harmful if ingested.

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