A small green bean that is eaten in its long green pod. The snap bean used to have a fibrous “string” down the center of the pod; this characteristic has been bred out of the species.
Snap peas (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), also known as sugarsnap peas, are a cultivar group of edible-podded peas that differ from snow peas in that their pods are round as opposed to flat. The name mangetout (French for “eat all”) can apply both to snap peas and snow peas.
Snap peas, like all other peas, are pod fruits. An edible-podded pea is similar to a garden, or English, pea, but the pod is less fibrous, and edible when young. Pods of the edible-podded pea, including snap peas, do not have a membrane and do not open when ripe. At maturity, the pods grow to around 4-8 cm in length, Pods contain three to five peas per pod.
There are several cultivars of snap peas, including ‘Sugar Rae’, ‘Sugar Bon’, ‘Sugar Ann’, and ‘Sugar Snap’. The plants are climbing, and pea sticks or a trellis or other support system is required for optimal growth. Some cultivars are capable of climbing to 2 m high but are more commonly around 1-1.3 m for ease of harvest. Sugarsnap peas were developed by crossing Chinese snow peas with a mutant shell pea plant, which was done by Drs. Lamborn and Park of Twin Falls, Idaho.