Pisum sativum
Common Name: garden pea 
Type: Annual
Family: Fabaceae
Native Range: Southern Europe
Zone: 2 to 11
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 0.60 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: Flowers not showy
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable


Plant as a cool season crop, ideally between 55 degrees and 65 degrees F. Sow seeds closely where they are to grow in fertile, moisture-retentive, neutral soil. Podded varieties should be staked or grown on a trellis but pea-shoot varieties can be allowed to creep along the ground.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Pisum sativum (peas) are hardy annual plants native to Eurasia that have been grown since 7,000 B.C. The common garden pea, Pisum sativum var. sativum, has a fibrous pod that is not edible. The seeds are harvested when almost mature and eaten fresh as shelled peas or the pods can be left to mature when the mature seeds are harvested and used dried. Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon lacks the fibers in the inner lining found in the common pea. Hence, the pod is edible as well as the tender peas inside. This group includes the edible-podded, sugar, snow and snap peas. The young tips, called pea shoots, of any of the varieties of Pisum sativum may be harvested and cooked as a pot herb. Pea shoots are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine. The smooth-seeded types are more cold hardy than the wrinkled-seeded varieties.

Genus name comes from the Latin name.

Specific epithet means cultivated.


Powdery mildew and slugs may be occasional problems. Seeds can also rot if planted too early in damp, cold ground.


Depending upon the cultivar chosen, peas can be grown for their sweet shelled peas, as edible-podded, as snap peas, as Asian snow peas, or for their edible shoots. Snap and snow peas work well in Asian stir-frys and the edible shoots are excellent raw or cooked in soup, steamed, or stir fried. Eat raw with lemon juice dripped over them, wilted with olive oil and garlic, steamed or sautéed in butter with salt and butter. Substitute for spinach in Florentine seafood dishes. Bake in white sauce au gratin, or serve with a cream cheese or mustard sauce.