The Structure of Pea Plants

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The Structure of Pea Plants
Many peas are contained in each pod. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

The pea plant (Pisum sativum) is a common vegetable garden plant. There are two common types of peas: garden peas, such as English peas, and edible podded peas, such as sugar snap peas. Southern peas, such as black-eyed peas and cowpeas, actually are a different genus (Vigna).

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Appearance

The pea plant comes in low, bush and vine forms. The vine version can grow to about 6 feet high and produce a series of tendrils to hold up the weak stem system. The plants produce many hanging pods that contain edible peas.

Leaves

The thin green leaves are compound, which means more than one leaflet is attached to each stalk. Leaf shapes vary with each variety but are generally oval shaped. Each stalk produces tendrils that twist around nearby objects for added support.

Flowers

Each flower is made up of five petals. There is one large top petal, two side petals and two lower petals that are canoe-shaped. Flowers are either purple or white and contain both female and male parts.

Peas and Pods

The peas are small, round, edible seeds that are contained within pods. Peas can have either smooth or wrinkled skins. The pods of garden peas and southern peas can be stringy, unlike those of the edible podded pea varieties, which are tender and crisp.

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