Fabaceae Lindl.
Lathyrus L.

Lathyrus oleraceus Lam.

This species is accepted, and its native range is Medit. to Afghanistan. It is used as animal food and a medicine and for food.

Biogeografic region: Andean. Elevation range: 1090–3100 m a.s.l. Cultivated in Colombia. Naturalised in Colombia. Colombian departments: Antioquia, Boyacá, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, Santander, Valle del Cauca.
Herb, Climbing.


Bernal, R., G. Galeano, A. Rodríguez, H. Sarmiento y M. Gutiérrez. 2017. Nombres Comunes de las Plantas de Colombia.

alverja, arveja, arveja parda, arvejón blanco, criolla, guisante


International Legume Database and Information Service

Not Threatened
Morphology General Habit
Annual, Climbing/Not climbing, Herb
Gorokh Vysoki, Purple Podded Pea, Steeplejack, Wilde Erbse


International Legume Database and Information Service

Not Threatened
Morphology General Habit
Annual, Climbing, Herb


International Legume Database and Information Service

Not Threatened
Africa: Cultivated
Morphology General Habit
Annual/Perennial, Climbing, Herb
Alverja, Anikytsh, Arveja, Barda, Batra, Chicharo, Common Pea, Ekin Koi Nokhud, Erbse, Ervilha, Ervilheira, Field Pea, Garden Pea, Garokh Pasyaouny, Garten-Erbse, Gorokh Posevnoi, Gorokh Posivnyi, Gra Art, Green Pea, Groch Zwycrajny, Guisante, Harilik Her


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

Morphology General Habit
Climbing annual herb up to 2 m tall (in cultivation), glabrous.
Morphology Stem
Stems ± terete.
Morphology 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.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers solitary or up to 3 in axillary racemes; peduncle 5–190 mm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx tube 4–8 mm long, campanulate; lobes as long as or longer than the tube, unequal, lanceolate, acute.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers 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.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Style
Style c. 7 mm long.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Pod up to 100 × 25 mm, oblong-obovate, abruptly narrowed to both ends, whitish or yellowish when ripe.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
Seeds 6–10 in each pod, globular.
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.


Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá.

Cultivada en Colombia; Alt. 1090 - 3100 m.; Andes.
Morphology General Habit
Hierba, trepadora


The Useful Plants of Boyacá project

Cultivated in Colombia.
Morphology General Habit
Alt. 1090 - 3100 m.

Found in Boyacá, Colombia.


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. 


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. 


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.

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

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.

Use Animal Food
Used as animal food.
Use Gene Sources
Used as gene sources.
Use Food
Used for food.
Use Medicines
Medical uses.

Food and Drink, Forage

Food and Drink, Forage, Medicine

Use Animal Food
Eaten by animals (Florez-Cárdenas et al. 2010).
Use Food
Food (Granados-Tochoy et al. 2007).
Use Gene Sources
Crop wild relatives which may possess beneficial traits of value in breeding programmes (State of the World's Plants 2016).

Food, fodder, hay, silage, forage, cover crop, cosmetics.

Native to:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Corse, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Krym, Lebanon-Syria, Libya, Morocco, New York, North Caucasus, Palestine, 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, California, Canary Is., Cayman Is., Central European Rus, China North-Central, China South-Central, Chita, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Dominican Republic, East Aegean Is., East European Russia, East Himalaya, Ethiopia, Fiji, Haiti, Idaho, Illinois, India, Irkutsk, Kamchatka, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Khabarovsk, Kirgizstan, Korea, Krasnoyarsk, Laos, Madeira, Magadan, Marianas, Mexico Southwest, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, New South Wales, New Zealand North, New Zealand South, Nigeria, North European Russi, Northwest European R, Oregon, Pakistan, Primorye, Puerto Rico, Rwanda, Sakhalin, South Australia, South European Russi, South Georgia, Sri Lanka, Tadzhikistan, Tibet, Trinidad-Tobago, Tuva, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vermont, Vietnam, Washington, West Himalaya, West Siberia, Yakutskiya, Yemen

Alverja, arveja, arveja ojinegra.

Lathyrus oleraceus Lam. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Meyers, F.S. [661], Jordan Pisum sativum subsp. pumilio K000286300 No
Meyers, F.S. [661], Jordan Pisum sativum subsp. pumilio K000286301 Yes
s.coll. [350], Jordan Pisum sativum subsp. pumilio K000286302 No
s.coll. [348], Jordan Pisum sativum var. elatius K000286298 No
Meyers, F.S. [661], Jordan Pisum sativum var. elatius K000286299 Yes
Burges, R.C.L. [s.n.], United Kingdom Pisum humile K001105953 No
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] Pisum sativum K001122619 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950], India Pisum sativum K001122621 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] Pisum sativum K001122626 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950], India Pisum sativum K001122623 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] Pisum sativum K001122620 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950], India Pisum sativum K001122622 Yes
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 5950], Nepal Pisum sativum K001122624 Yes
s.coll. [Cat. no. 5950] Pisum sativum K001122625 Yes

First published in Fl. Franç. 2: 580 (1779)

Accepted by

  • Kenicer, G.J. & Parsons, R. (2021). Lathyrus: The Complete Guide: 1-511. RHS Media.

Not accepted by

  • Boulos, L. (1999). Flora of Egypt 1: 1-419. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo. [Cited as Pisum sativum.]
  • Greuter, W., Burdet, H.M. & Long, G. (eds.) (1989). Med-checklist 4: 1-458. Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève. [Cited as Pisum sativum.]


Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Bello, A. & al. (2021). epublication.
  • Bhellum, B.L. (2012). Flora exotica of Jammu and Kashmir (List- I) Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36: 33-45.
  • Boulos, L. (1999). Flora of Egypt 1: 1-419. Al Hadara Publishing, Cairo.
  • Chrtková-Zertová, A., van der Maesen, L.J.G. & Rechinger, K.H. (1979). Papilionaceae I - Vicieae Flora Iranica 140: 1-89. Naturhistorisches Museums Wien.
  • Danihelka, J. Chrtek, J. & Kaplan, Z. (2012). Checklist of vascular plants of the Czech Republic Preslia. Casopsi Ceské Botanické Spolecnosti 84: 647-811.
  • Dobignard, A. & Chatelain, C. (2012). Index synonymique de la flore d'Afrique du nord 4: 1-431. Éditions des conservatoire et jardin botaniques, Genève.
  • Fosberg, F.R., Sachet, M.-H., Oliver, R. (1979). A geographical checklist of the Micronesian Dicotyledonae Micronesica; Journal of the College of Guam 15: 41-295.
  • 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.
  • Gilman, A.V. (2015). New flora of Vermont Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 110: 1-614.
  • Greuter, W., Burdet, H.M. & Long, G. (eds.) (1989). Med-checklist 4: 1-458. Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève.
  • Hammel, B.E., Grayum, M.H., Herrera & C. & Zamora, N. (eds.) (2010). Manual de plantas de Costa Rica volumen V. Dicotiledóneas (Clusiaceae-Gunneraceae) Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 119: 1-970. Missouri Botanical Garden.
  • Hong, D.Y. (ed.) (2019). Flora of Pan-Himalaya 19(6): 1-130. Science Press, Beijing. Cambridge University Press.
  • 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: 1-112. Botanical reseach institute of Texas.
  • Kumar, S. & Sane, P.V. (2003). Legumes of South Asia. A Checklist: 1-536. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Lambion, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (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.
  • Lee, W.T. (1996). Lineamenta Florae Koreae: 1-1688. Soul T'ukpyolsi: Ak'ademi Sojok.
  • Lepschi, B. & Monro, A. (Project Coordinators) (2014). Australian Plant Census (APC) Council of Heads of Australian Herbaria.
  • Lock, J.M. & Ford, C.S. (2004). Legumes of Malesia a Check-List: 1-295. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Lock, J.M. & Heald, J. (1994). Legumes of Indo-China a checck-list: 1-164. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Lock, J.M. (1989). Legumes of Africa a check-list: 1-619. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Meyers, S.C. & al. (eds.) (2020). Flora of Oregon 2: 1-861. Botanical research institute of Texas Press.
  • Mohlenbrock, R.H. (2014). Vascular Flora of Illinois. A Field Guide, ed. 4: 1-536. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale.
  • Nowak, A. & Nobis, M. (eds.) (2020). Illustrated Flora of Tajikistan and adjacent areas 2: 367-766. PAN, Polish academy of sciences.
  • Pandey, R.P. & Dilwakar, P.G. (2008). An integrated check-list flora of Andaman and Nicobar islands, India Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 32: 403-500.
  • Pope, G.V., Polhill, R.N. & Martins, E.S. (eds.) (2003). Flora Zambesiaca 3(7): 1-274. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • 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.
  • Tutin, T.G. & al. (eds.) (1968). Flora Europaea 2: 1-469. Cambridge University Press.
  • Webb, C.J., Sykes, W.R. & Garnock-Jones, P.J. (1988). Flora of New Zealand 4: 1-1365. Botany division, D.S.I.R., Christchurch.
  • Werier, D. (2017). Catalogue of the Vascular plants of New York state Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Club 27: 1-542.
  • Wood, J.R.I. (1997). A handbook of the Yemen Flora: 1-434. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Yakovlev, G.P., Sytin, A.K. & Roskov, Y.R. (1996). Legumes of Northern Eurasia. A checklist: 1-724. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Zervous, S., Raus, T. & Yannitsaros, A. (2009). Additons to the flora of the island of Kalimnos (SE Aegean, Greece) Willdenowia 39: 165-177.

Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

  • Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R., & Celis, M. (eds.). (2020). Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia. v1.1. Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Dataset/Checklist.
  • Cámara-Leret, R., & Dennehy, Z. (2019). Information gaps in indigenous and local knowledge for science-policy assessments. Nature Sustainability 2:736-741.
  • Dempewolf, H., Eastwood, R. J., Guarino, L., Khoury, C. K., Müller, J. V. & Toll, J. (2014). Adapting agriculture to climate change: a global initiative to collect, conserve, and use crop wild relatives. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 38, 369-377.
  • Diazgranados et al. (2021). Catalogue of plants of Colombia. Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia project. In prep.
  • FPI (2021). Food Plants International.
  • GRIN (2021). Germplasm Resources Information Network from the United States Department of Agriculture.
  • Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) v.10 (2021);
  • PROTA (2021). Plants Resources of Tropical Africa.
  • RBG, Kew (2021). Kew Economic Botany Collection.
  • Willis, K.J. (ed.) (2017). State of the World’s Plants 2017. Report. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

  • Art and Illustrations in Digifolia

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia

  • Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible

    ColPlantA 2021. Published on the Internet at

  • Flora Zambesiaca

    Flora Zambesiaca

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • International Legume Database and Information Service

    International Legume Database and Information Service (ILDIS) V10.39 Nov 2011

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Science Photographs

    Copyright applied to individual images

  • Kew Species Profiles

    Kew Species Profiles

  • Legumes of the World Online

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • Universidad Nacional de Colombia

    ColPlantA database

  • Useful Plants and Fungi of Colombia

  • Useful Plants of Boyacá Project

    ColPlantA database