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The most common pea is the small spherical seed or seed pod of Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas. Pea pods are plant fruits because they contain seeds and develop from the ovary of the flower. The name is also used to describe other edible seeds of Leguminosae, such as Cajanus cajan, the bean (Vigna unguiculata) and several kinds of thy beans.

P. Sativum is an annual plant with a life cycle of one year. It is a cool season crop in many parts of the world. The sowing time may be from winter to early summer, depending on the location. The average weight of peas is between 0.1 and 0.36 grams. Immature peas (also tender pods in snow peas) are used as vegetables, fresh, frozen or canned; various varieties, often called peas, are grown to produce dried peas, such as those peeled from mature pods. These are the basis of pea porridge and pea soup, the staple of medieval cuisine; in Europe, eating fresh immature peas was an innovation in early modern cuisine.

Peas are limited to the Mediterranean basin and the Near East. The earliest archaeological discovery of pea can be traced back to the late Neolithic Age in Greece, Syria, Turkey and Jordan. In Egypt, early discoveries date back to about BC. About 4800-4400 BC in the Nile Delta area, 3800-3600 BC in Upper Egypt. In 5000 BC, peas also appeared in Georgia. Farther east, the finds are younger. There are peas about in Afghanistan. 2000 BC, 2250-1750 BC in Harappa, Pakistan and northwest India. In the second half of the 2nd century BC, this legume crop appeared in the Ganges basin and southern India.