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PISUM sativum var. macrocarpon

Image of Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon



Botanical Name

PISUM sativum var. macrocarpon

Plant Common Name

Snow Pea

General Description

Few cool season crops are as satisfying as the humble garden pea. Peas have been cultivated for their edible seeds and pods for thousands of years. Snow, or mangetout, peas are flat and eaten immature (pod and all). If harvested young, these peas are virtually stringless. They are favored in Asian cooking and often used in stir fry. Many cultivars reach maturity 60 days after seeding.

Pea plants are vines, though some have shrubbier habits. Their pale green leaves are compound. The stems are also lined with branched tendrils that curl around objects and help the fine pea stems climb. Some cultivars are semi-leafless to leafless and just have lots of curly tendrils. Mature plants produce lightly fragrant white, pink or lavender pea flowers. The blooms are produced in loose clusters on short stems among the foliage. Most modern pea cultivars are self-fertile. Edible pod types such as this are harvested when the pods are young and tender. Snow peas may have green or yellow pods.

Full sun and rich, friable soil with good drainage is needed for vigorous growth and fruit set. Peas are cool season vegetables, so in the north temperate zones they are planted in early spring as soon as the soil is workable or in fall, once temperatures are cool again. In southern, frost-free zones they are planted in winter. Pea seeds should be directly sown in the ground because seedlings do not transplant well. Overwatering seeds before they germinate can lead to seed rot. Most peas require staking or other support. Peas produce usable crops quickly. Seeds can be planted in weekly intervals for a longer harvest season, though once temperatures warm up plants will become stressed and stop producing.

Like most members of the bean family, peas have a mutually beneficial relationship with a bacterium called Rhizobium, which allows plants to add nitrogen to the soil. Seeds and plants often grow better if tossed in a commercially available Rhizobium inoculum before planting.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    1'-4' / 0.3m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Winter, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Europe, Mediterranean, Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH


  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    White, Pink, Lavender

  • Fruit Color


  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing