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Difference Between Peas and Beans

Peas vs Beans

Peas and beans are easily misidentified with one another because they are both legumes and seeds. They are also members of one same family – the Leguminosae (now known as Fabaceae). It’s just that they have significant differences that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Foremost, beans are described as large seed plants. The term “bean” is actually used to describe the seed of broad beans. Later on, its description is widened to cover those belonging to the genus Phaseolus like the common and runner beans. Beans also include the palatable seeds and pods of herbs. Similarly, the seeds of other non-Leguminosae shrubs or trees, as in the case of coffee and cocoa, which are still considered beans because they both resemble ordinary beans. Other seeds like vanilla beans are referred to as such because they resemble similar pods as natural beans. There are many types of beans like the French beans, runner beans, drying beans, and broad beans (fava beans in American regions).

Peas are part of the genus Pisum and specie sativum. In typical cooking, peas are regarded as vegetables yet they are still a naturally occurring fruit. Most peas appear as round seeds inside the pea pods. This crop thrives during the cooler season. That’s why they are usually planted during winter or before the onset of summer (still varies with the specific location). Each pea is said to weigh within 0.1 to 0.36 gm. at an average.

Peas are usually sown deep (30 to 40 mm.) either in double or narrowed rows. The primary pea varieties grown nowadays can reach a height of 450 to 1,500 mm. with the Greenfeast peas being very well known. Other peas that are gaining popularity are the snow peas and sugar snap peas.

The most distinct difference between the two is the characteristic of their stems. Peas have hollowed stems while beans possess more solid ones. For either legume, the taller ones need trellises to properly grow and serve as support. Most beans just twine themselves over their support while the peas use their tendrils (from their leaves) to twine. In this connection, beans lack tendrils as compared to peas.
Moreover, the pattern of cotyledon development is also different in the sense that these structures come out from the ground in the case of beans while for the peas these cotyledons do not emerge. Beans, especially those that climb, are sown within a wider range of depth than peas at around 25 to 50 mm.


1.Peas are characterized by their hollow stems while beans possess more solid stems.
2.In general, beans lack tendrils as compared to peas that use their leaf tendrils to twine.
3.Peas are treated as vegetables in the realm of cooking even if they are ordinarily fruits.
4.With regard to cotyledon development, beans have their cotyledons emerging from the ground unlike in the case of peas.

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  1. I am almost as confused now as I was before. I guess I should learn more about plants!

    • We grow regular peas in a pod, and let them over ripe, then they turn into pinto beans instead of peas. So at least pinto beans are a veg

      • No, overripe peas are NOT pinto beans. Pinto beans are a distinct member of the bean family. Yes they are considered vegetables, members of the legume family, and high in protein.

  2. Carol,
    I really think you need to re-read the article

  3. Great article – concise, to the point – answered some of my questions. Please consider adding information about any nutritional differences. Thank you so much

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