Pea plants are known all over the world. These plants include edible and inedible varieties and are usually identified for their compound leaves and seed-containing pods. There are over 20,000 plants within the Fabaceae (legume) family, including the peas (genus Lathyrus).
While pea plants are commonly vines or shrubs, other pod-producing plants closely related to peas appear as herbs, trees, or shrubs. Here are 8 examples of plants that look like peas:
- Pea beans – the flowers look like pea flowers and develop into pods
- Scarlet runner beans – these red flowers also resemble pea flowers
- Hyacinth bean – bright pink flowers that look like pea flowers with pea-like pods
- Radish pods – the entire plant, flower, and pods are easily mistaken for peas
- Black locust tree – the pods of this tree resemble pea pods
- Redbud tree – the flowers of this tree look like pea flowers
- Chickpeas – chickpea flowers closely resemble pea flowers
- String of pearls – the leaves of this succulent resemble peas
Since pea plants come in trees, shrubs, herbs, and vines, it’s no wonder that there are so many plants that resemble the pea plant. Whether you’re using sweet peas, sugar peas, or cowpeas (black-eyed peas) as a reference, you’ll clearly see a resemblance between the common pea plant and these.
Related: 5 Plants That Look Like Green Beans
1. Pea Beans (Pisum sativum)
Pea beans or navy beans are the seeds of a bean plant. Although they are commonly known as peas, they are actually beans. Pea beans are usually white-colored and come in a seed pod resembling a pea.
The pea bean’s plant, flowers, and pods all resemble that of peas, which is why many people mistake pea beans for regular garden peas. Like a pea plant, pea beans produce irregular flowers with wings, a banner, and a keel.
A pea bean plant’s flowers typically produce white flowers with a slight pink hue. The seed pods grow from the flower, and pea beans are edible.
2. Scarlet Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus)
Scarlet runner beans also resemble pea plants significantly. They are from the same family as peas but come from a different genus. Scarlet runner beans are vine plants and produce brightly colored scarlet flowers. The flowers look exactly like pea flowers, and the entire plant resembles a pea.
The scarlet flowers eventually turn into long, narrow seed pods that look like peas. At this time, the seed pods are harvested to reveal the scarlet-colored beans within. Scarlet runner beans have many similarities from the plant to the seed pod to peas.
They also require the same soil type and are an excellent alternative to peas if you cannot source them. Scarlet runner beans are edible, and the beans are usually dried and turn a darker reddish-brown color.
3. Hyacinth Beans (Lablab purpureus)
Hyacinth beans also produce flowers that look similar to pea flowers. These shrubs have dark brown leaves and produce bright red flowers with the same irregular shape as pea flowers. Hyacinth beans eventually also produce deep purple seed pods from the flowers.
Since hyacinth beans are also from the bean family, it’s no surprise that they resemble peas closely. One significant difference between these two plants, however, is that hyacinth flowers and seed pods are edible. Still, the mature beans are toxic once dried.
Related: Are Hyacinths Poisonous?
Whereas many pea plants are cultivated for their value as a food source, hyacinth beans are more commonly kept as ornamental plants. Their beautiful flowers and striking seedpods are what attract people to this plant.
4. Radish Pods (Raphanus sativus)
Most people are familiar with radish plants and their root vegetables, but many don’t know that radishes also produce seed pods that look remarkably familiar. The seed pods of radishes closely resemble pea pods and grow on the green part of the radish.
These long, slender seed pods resemble some pea pods and even string beans. They are edible and are commonly harvested and enjoyed in India. While you may mistake the appearance of a radish pod for a pea pod, that is about where the similarities end.
The radish plant looks nothing like a pea plant, and the flowers are significantly different than the pea flowers too.
5. Black Locust Tree (Robinia pseudoacacia)
One tree that produces pods that look remarkably similar to pea pods is the black locust tree. These large trees are native to North America and produce bundles of beautiful bell-like flowers. However, when the flowers fall off, the branches are left with long seed pods that look like brown pea pods.
Although the seed pods look friendly enough, all parts of the black locust tree are poisonous. No other parts of the tree, including the leaves, stems, or flowers, look like peas. However, if you pick one of the seed pods up, you will see that it resembles a pea pod.
Since black locust trees are poisonous, they have more of an ornamental value. They are popular in some parts of America, providing shade and fragrant flowers for passersby to enjoy.
6. Redbud Tree (Cercis canadensis)
The redbud tree is also native to North America. This tree produces stunning pink flowers similar in shape and size to pea flowers. Redbud trees also have other similarities to peas. They produce seed pods that are edible. Many pick the seed pods when they are young and prepare them like snow peas.
The flowers of redbud trees are also edible and are often used for decoration on salads or desserts. Redbud trees are also part of the Fabaceae family, meaning they are related to peas in a way. Although the redbud tree looks nothing like a pea plant, other parts of the tree do.
Redbud trees are beautiful, though, with their pink blossoms filling the sky in summer. Redbud trees are primarily grown for their beautiful flowers, with the edible pods a welcome bonus.
Related: 5 Pros And 4 Cons Of Redbud Trees
7. Chickpeas (Cicer arietinum)
It should be no surprise that chickpeas resemble garden peas in some ways. Both plants are a part of the Fabaceae family. Still, one won’t likely mistake a chickpea plant for a sugar snap or snow pea.
The flowers of chickpeas and other peas look similar, with chickpea plants producing the same pink, irregular flowers as other pea plants. Chickpeas also produce pods, but they look quite different from the pods of other peas. Chickpea pods are shorter and fatter in shape.
Each chickpea pod also contains only one chickpea, whereas regular pea pods hold many peas in each pod. Chickpeas are also shrub plants like many other pea plants. These plants are covered in fluff and almost resemble weeds by the time they are ready for harvest.
8. String Of Pearls (Senecio rowleyanus)
Finally, one cannot create a list of plants that look like peas without mentioning a string of pearls. The string of pearls resembles peas for a completely different reason than any of the other plants discussed. This succulent resembles a pea plant because the leaves look like peas.
The string of pearls doesn’t produce flowers or seed pods. They also aren’t a part of the same family or even species of plants. However, their leaves resemble peas so much that they are also often named a string of peas.
The string of pearls isn’t edible and is mainly kept as ornamental hanging plants. Regardless, though, many feel that these plants closely resemble peas, which is why it is the final plant on this list.