1. Family: Fabaceae Lindl.
    1. Genus: Pisum L.
      1. Pisum sativum L.

        Pisum sativum, commonly known as pea, is a valuable food source for millions of people throughout the world. Pea belongs to the plant family Leguminosae (also known as Fabaceae) and, like many legumes, it has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria housed in root nodules, making it very rich in protein. Pea seeds are high in fibre, vitamins and important minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. 

    [FZ]

    Leguminosae, various authors. Flora Zambesiaca 3:7. 2003

    Habit
    Climbing annual herb up to 2 m tall (in cultivation), glabrous.
    Stem
    Stems ± terete.
    Leaves
    Leaves 2–6(8)-foliolate, the leaflets usually opposite; leaflets 15–70 × 7–40 mm, ovate to elliptical, obtuse to emarginate and sometimes apiculate at the apex, cuneate at the base, entire to dentate; petiole up to 60 mm long; rhachis terminating in a branched prehensile tendril; petiolules 0.5–1 mm long; stipules foliaceous, up to 80 × 40 mm, usually larger than the leaflets, semicordate, semiamplexicaul, dentate towards the base or rarely subentire, glaucous or sometimes with a violet spot at the base.
    Flowers
    Flowers solitary or up to 3 in axillary racemes; peduncle 5–190 mm long.
    Calyx
    Calyx tube 4–8 mm long, campanulate; lobes as long as or longer than the tube, unequal, lanceolate, acute.
    Corolla
    Corolla white, pinkish or purplish; standard 15–30 × 23–45 mm, with the lamina broadly ovate, emarginate-apiculate, plicate and subappendiculate at the base; wings purplish or whitish, a little shorter than the standard, the lamina orbicular-obovate, abruptly narrowed above the auricles; keel coloured as the standard, much shorter than the wings, subacute at the apex.
    Style
    Style c. 7 mm long.
    Fruits
    Pod up to 100 × 25 mm, oblong-obovate, abruptly narrowed to both ends, whitish or yellowish when ripe.
    Seeds
    Seeds 6–10 in each pod, globular.
    Note
    A very polymorphic species, widely cultivated for thousands of years for its edible seeds and for fodder; some varieties and cultivars are also cultivated for their edible fresh pods.
    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description

    Pisum sativum, commonly known as pea, is a valuable food source for millions of people throughout the world. Pea belongs to the plant family Leguminosae (also known as Fabaceae) and, like many legumes, it has the ability to fix nitrogen from the air through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria housed in root nodules, making it very rich in protein. Pea seeds are high in fibre, vitamins and important minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. 

    There are three main types of pea. Field pea is grown for the dry seeds, garden pea is cultivated for the immature green seeds and sugar pea is grown for the immature pods.

    The father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel, famously performed breeding experiments with the pea and discovered the mechanisms governing inheritance by crossing different types of pea plants and observing the offspring. The pea is an ideal plant for genetic study because of the presence of observable traits with contrasting forms, its short life-cycle and its production of many offspring from one cross.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    The origins of Pisum sativum are not very well known. Archaeological evidence found in the Fertile Crescent (the area surrounding modern day Israel and Jordan and the land in and around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers), indicates that people have been cultivating pea since 8,000 BC. Western Asia appears to be the area in which pea was first cultivated and from there it was spread by humans to Europe, China and India. Today, Pisum sativum , is grown in all temperate countries and in most tropical highlands. 

    Description

    Overview: Pisum sativum is an annual (with a life cycle of one year) climbing herb up to 3 metres tall (up to 1.3 metres for the sugar pea types) with a well developed taproot extending up to 1.2 metres into the soil. The stems are terete (cylindrical) with hollow internodes (parts of the stem that lie between where a leaf is attached or used to be attached) and very few basal branches. 

    Leaves: The pinnately compound leaves are arranged alternately along the stem, each leaf comprising up to 4 pairs of leaflets and ending in a tendril which is usually branched. The stipules (appendages at the base of the leaf) are leaf-like and are up to 10 x 4 cm in size. The petiole (the part of the leaf which connects to the stem) is up to 7 cm long. 

    Flowers: The flowers are arranged along an unbranched axis (a raceme), and the racemes are 1-3 flowered and axillary (arising in the axil, between the main stem and a leaf). The flowers are white to purple and are papilionaceous, typical of species belonging to the Leguminosae subfamily Papilionoideae. Each flower has 10 stamens, nine of which are fused into a partial tube, with the tenth stamen free. The ovary is positioned above the sepals, petals and stamens. The style is curved and is longitudinally grooved. 

    Fruit: The fruit is a pendent oblong pod, 3.5–15 × 1–2.5 cm in size and containing up to 11 seeds. The seeds are globose (spherical), sometimes wrinkled, 5-8 mm in diameter and vary in colour from yellow (sugar pea), green (crinkled garden pea) to purple or spotted or creamish white. 

    Uses

    Pisum sativum is cultivated mainly for its edible seeds which are high in protein and contain important vitamins and minerals. 

    Peas are prepared in a number of different ways depending on the type or cultivar used: 

    The dry seeds of field pea are consumed as a pulse dish and need to be soaked first to soften them before boiling. They can also be roasted or decorticated (having their thin seed coat removed) and split before boiling (known as split peas).The young seeds of garden pea and the young pods of sugar pea only need to be boiled for a few minutes before they are ready to be eaten.

    In Western countries peas are commonly sold canned or frozen. In Malawi and some Asian countries the leafy shoots of the pea plant are eaten as a vegetable. 

    As well as being an excellent food source for humans, the high protein content of Pisum means that it is commonly used as animal feed in many Western countries. The plant is also used for forage, hay, silage and green manure. Its ability to fix nitrogen makes pea a good fertiliser and cover crop.

    For a beauty treatment the seeds of pea can be crushed and used as a face-mask for acne and wrinkles.  

    Crop wild relatives of pea

    The Millennium Seed Bank and the Global Crop Diversity Trust are engaged in a ten-year project, called 'Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change'. The project aims to protect, collect and prepare the wild relatives of 29 key food crops, including pea, so that they are available to pre-breeders for the development of new varieties that are more resilient to the effects of climate change.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    The  Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plants worldwide, focusing on those plants which are under threat and those which are of most use in the future. Once seeds have been collected they are dried, packaged and stored at -20°C in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank vault.

    Description of seeds: Average 1,000 seed weight (g) = 214.7 g

    Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank: Three

    Seed storage behaviour: Orthodox (the seeds of this plant can be dried to low moisture contents without significantly reducing their viability. This means they are suitable for long-term frozen storage).

    Germination testing: Successful

    This species at Kew

    Pressed and dried specimens of pea are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers by appointment. Details and images of some of these specimens can be seen online in Kew's Herbarium Catalogue.

    Ecology
    A cool season crop which grows on a range of soil types but is seriously affected by soil acidity, aluminium toxicity and waterlogging.
    Conservation
    Widespread in cultivation.
    Hazards

    Oil from ripened seeds has an antisex hormonal effect which can produce sterility. The seeds are thought to cause dysentery when eaten raw in quantity.

    [KSP]
    Use
    Food, fodder, hay, silage, forage, cover crop, cosmetics.

    Images

    Distribution

    Found In:

    Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Corse, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Morocco, North Caucasus, Portugal, Romania, Sardegna, Sicilia, Spain, Transcaucasus, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkey-in-Europe, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Yugoslavia

    Introduced Into:

    Alabama, Altay, Amur, Andaman Is., Assam, Austria, Baltic States, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Buryatiya, Canary Is., Cayman Is., Central European Rus, Chita, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, East Himalaya, Ethiopia, Fiji, Haiti, Illinois, India, Irkutsk, Kamchatka, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Laos, Madeira, Magadan, Mexico Southwest, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, New South Wales, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Pakistan, Palestine, Primorye, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Sakhalin, South Australia, South European Russi, South Georgia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad-Tobago, Tuva, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, West Himalaya, West Siberia, Yakutskiya

    Common Names

    English
    Pea

    Pisum sativum L. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Identified Reference Herbarium Specimen Type Status
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] K001122619
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] K001122620
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950], India K001122621
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950], India K001122622
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950], India K001122623
    Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 5950], Nepal K001122624
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] K001122625
    s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] K001122626

    First published in Sp. Pl.: 727 (1753)

    Accepted by

    • (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
    • (2014) Australian Plant Census (APC) . Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria. http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/index.html
    • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014) Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide , ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale
    • (2012) Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 4: 1-431. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève
    • (2012) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36: 33-45
    • (2012) Preslia. Casopsi Ceské Botanické Spolecnosti 84: 647-811
    • (2012) Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192
    • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012) Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies) , ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
    • Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011) Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama . Botanical reseach institute of Texas
    • (2010) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 119: 1-970. Missouri Botanical Garden
    • (2009) Willdenowia 39: 165-177
    • Nelson Sutherland, C.H. (2008) Catálogo de las plantes vasculares de Honduras. Espermatofitas . SERNA/Guaymuras, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    • (2004) Nouvelle flore de la Belgique du G. D. de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines , ed. 5: 1-1167. Edition du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique
    • Lock, J.M. & Ford, C.S. (2004) Legumes of Malesia a Check-List . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • (2003) Flora Zambesiaca 3(7): 1-274. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003) Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • Boulos, L. (1999) Flora of Egypt 1: 1-419. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo
    • Lee, W.T. (1996) Lineamenta Florae Koreae . Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok
    • Yakovlev, G.P., Sytin, A.K. & Roskov, Y.R. (1996) Legumes of Northern Eurasia. A checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • Lock, J.M. & Heald, J. (1994) Legumes of Indo-China a checck-list . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • (1989) Med-checklist 4: 1-458. Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève
    • Lock, J.M. (1989) Legumes of Africa a check-list . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • (1988) Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. Botany division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch
    • Smith, A.C. (1985) Flora Vitiensis Nova. A new flora for Fiji (Spermatophytes only) 3: 1-758. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai
    • Troupin, G. (ed.) (1983) Flora du Rwanda 2: 1-603. Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale
    • (1979) Flora Iranica 140: 1-89. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien
    • (1974) Flora of Iraq 3: 1-662. Ministry of Agriculture & Agrarian Reform, Baghdad
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968) Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press

    Literature

    Kew Species Profiles
    • Beentje, H. (2010). The Kew Plant Glossary: an Illustrated Dictionary of Plant Terms. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Mabberley, D.J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-book: a Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses. Third edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
    • Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2008). Seed Information Database (SID). Version 7.1.
    • Brink, M. & Belay, G. (2006). Cereals and Pulses: Volume 1 of Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. PROTA.
    • Duke, J. A. (1981). Handbook of Legumes of World Economic Importance. New York: Plenum Press.
    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    • (2016) Phytotaxa 250: 1-431
    • (2014) Australian Plant Census (APC) . Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria. http://www.anbg.gov.au/chah/apc/index.html
    • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014) Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide , ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale
    • (2012) Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 4: 1-431. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève
    • (2012) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36: 33-45
    • (2012) Preslia. Casopsi Ceské Botanické Spolecnosti 84: 647-811
    • (2012) Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192
    • Garcia-Mendoza, A.J. & Meave, J.A. (eds.) (2012) Diversidad florística de Oaxaca: de musgos a angiospermas (colecciones y listas de especies) , ed. 2: 1-351. Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
    • Kral, R., Diamond, A.R., Ginzbarg, S.L., Hansen, C.J., Haynes, R.R., Keener, B.R., Lelong, M.G., Spaulding, D.D. & Woods, M. (2011) Annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Alabama . Botanical reseach institute of Texas
    • (2010) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 119: 1-970. Missouri Botanical Garden
    • (2009) Willdenowia 39: 165-177
    • (2008) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500
    • (2004) Nouvelle flore de la Belgique du G. D. de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines , ed. 5: 1-1167. Edition du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique
    • Lock, J.M. & Ford, C.S. (2004) Legumes of Malesia a Check-List . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • (2003) Flora Zambesiaca 3(7): 1-274. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003) Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • Boulos, L. (1999) Flora of Egypt 1: 1-419. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo
    • Lee, W.T. (1996) Lineamenta Florae Koreae . Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok
    • Yakovlev, G.P., Sytin, A.K. & Roskov, Y.R. (1996) Legumes of Northern Eurasia. A checklist . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • Lock, J.M. & Heald, J. (1994) Legumes of Indo-China a checck-list . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • (1989) Med-checklist 4: 1-458. Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève
    • Lock, J.M. (1989) Legumes of Africa a check-list . Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
    • (1988) Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. Botany division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch
    • Smith, A.C. (1985) Flora Vitiensis Nova. A new flora for Fiji (Spermatophytes only) 3: 1-758. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai
    • Troupin, G. (ed.) (1983) Flora du Rwanda 2: 1-603. Musee Royal de l'Afrique Centrale
    • (1979) Flora Iranica 140: 1-89. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien
    • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968) Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press

    Sources

    Flora Zambesiaca
    Flora Zambesiaca
    [A] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2017. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
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    [C] © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    [D]
    [E] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Kew Library Art and Archives
    [F] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Legumes of the World Online
    [G] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

    Kew Science Photographs
    [H] Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/