Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

pea a legume which originated in W. Asia, has been a staple food since ancient times. There are three main kinds: the first of these, the familiar garden pea, Pisum sativum ssp sativum, is by far the most important. A secondary form, the field or grey pea, used to be distinguished as P. arvense, but is now classified as a variety (arvense) of the above ssp. Third is the small, wild Mediterranean pea, ssp elatius, sometimes called the oasis or maquis pea.

Other legumes of different genera are popularly called ‘peas’. See butterfly pea; chickpea; cowpea; pigeon pea; winged pea.