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Abyssinian Peas

We were very excited to discover Abyssinian peas in the John Innes Centre's seed bank and are now running garden trials to find out more about these unusual and beautiful peas from Ethiopia.

Seeds from the John Innes Centre

As the name suggests Abyssinian Peas (Pisum abyssinicum) are from Ethiopia, specifically the Highlands - one of the key global sites for crop domestication 10,000 or so years ago and still hugely significant for crop genetic diversity.

Once thought to be a sub-species of Pisum sativum (the cultivated varieties we know and eat), they're now better understood to be their own species, the product of a distinct and different domestication and more closely related to wild peas.

Mike Ambrose, keeper of John Innes Centre's amazing seed bank, gave us a few seeds of two different varieties - one black one green - to experiment with.

A handful of Abyssinian peas ready for planting

Garden Trials

This year we'll be trying them on a garden scale, but who knows perhaps they might work at field scale too.

We planted the out in late May and look forward to seeing the results.

Emerging pea plants

Cultural significance

We're keen to learn more about the cultural significance and history of these beautiful peas; please do comment if you have any insights!

Josiah Meldrum
Josiah Meldrum


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