Black-eyed peas
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Vigna
Species: V. unguiculata
Binomial name
Vigna unguiculata
(L.) Walp.

Vigna sinensis

The Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) (International Feed Number, 5-01-661) is one of several species of the widely cultivated genus Vigna. Four cultivated subspecies are recognised:

  • Vigna unguiculata subsp. cylindrica Catjang
  • Vigna unguiculata subsp. dekindtiana
  • Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis Yardlong bean
  • Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata Black-eyed pea

Cowpeas are one of the most important food legume crops in the semi-arid tropics covering Asia, Africa, southern Europe and Central and South America. A drought-tolerant and warm-weather crop, cowpeas are well-adapted to the drier regions of the tropics, where other food legumes do not perform well. It also has the useful ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen through its root nodules, and it grows well in poor soils with more than 85% sand and with less than 0.2% organic matter and low levels of phosphorus.[1] In addition, it is shade tolerant, and therefore, compatible as an intercrop with maize, millet, sorghum, sugarcane, and cotton. This makes cowpea an important component of traditional intercropping systems, especially in the complex and elegant subsistence farming systems of the dry savannas in sub-Saharan Africa.[2] Research in Ghana found that selecting early generations of cowpea crops to increase yield is not an effective strategy. Francis Padi from the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute in Tamale, Ghana, writing in Crop Science, suggests other methods such as bulk breeding are more efficient in developing high-yield varieties.[3]

Cowpea beans

Cowpeas are a common food item in the southern United States, where they are often called Black-eyed pea or field peas. Two subcategories of field peas are crowder peas, so called because they are crowded together in their pods, causing them to have squarish ends, and cream peas.

In India, in Bengali, it is called Barboti Kolai, in Kannada, it is called Alasande. In Hindi, it is called lobhia. In Gujarati, these are called Chola or Chowla (ચોળા). In Marathi, these are called Chawali or Chavali (चवळी). Kārāmani or Kārāmani Payir or Thatta Payir Tamil) the beans are called thatta kaai and are an integral part of the cuisine in southern region of India. In Tamilnadu during the Tamil month of Maasi (February) - Panguni (March) a cake-like dish called Kozhukattai or Adai (steamed sweet dumplings) prepared with cooked and mashed cowpeas mixed with jaggery, ghee and other ingredients. Thatta payir in sambar and pulikkuzhambu (spicy semisolid gravy in tamarind paste) is a popular dish in Thamizh Nadu.

According to the USDA food database, the leaves of the cowpea plant have the highest percentage of calories from protein among vegetarian foods.[4]

Traditional Cooking

In Sri Lanka, Cowpea is cooked in many different ways. One way is to cook cowpea with coconut milk. [5]


  1. ^ Singh, B. (2003). "Improving the production and utilization of cowpea as food and fodder". Field Crops Research 84: 169–150. doi:10.1016/S0378-4290(03)00148-5.  edit
  2. ^ Blade, 2005[specify]
  3. ^ Scott, Christina (2008-04-10). "Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 25 March–9 April". SciDev.Net. Science and Development Network. Retrieved 2008-04-13. 
  4. ^ Shaw, Monica (2007-10-28). "100 Most Protein Rich Vegetarian Foods". SmarterFitter Blog. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  5. ^ "Cowpea with coconut milk". Cecilia Carvalho. Archived from the original on 2011-2-2. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cowpea — Cow pea (kou p[=e] ), n. 1. The seed of one or more leguminous plants of the genus {Dolichos}; also, the plant itself. Many varieties are cultivated in the southern part of the United States. [1913 Webster] 2. (Bot.) A leguminous plant ({Vigna… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cowpea — ☆ cowpea [kou′pē΄ ] n. 1. a viny annual plant (Vigna unguiculata) of the pea family, bearing seeds in slender pods: grown in S U.S. for forage, green manure, etc. 2. the edible seed of this plant, cooked as a vegetable; black eyed pea …   English World dictionary

  • cowpea — noun 1. fruit or seed of the cowpea plant • Syn: ↑black eyed pea • Hypernyms: ↑legume • Part Holonyms: ↑cowpea plant, ↑black eyed pea, ↑Vigna unguiculata, ↑V …   Useful english dictionary

  • cowpea — /kow pee /, n. 1. a plant, Vigna unguiculata, extensively cultivated in the southern U.S. for forage, soil improvement, etc. 2. the seed of this plant, used for food. Also called black eyed pea. [1810 20, Amer.; COW1 + PEA] * * * or black eyed… …   Universalium

  • cowpea — n. annual legume grown in the southern USA for forage and soil improvement, black eyed pea; edible seed of the cowpea plant …   English contemporary dictionary

  • cowpea — noun 1》 a tropical leguminous plant cultivated for its edible pods and seeds. [Vigna unguiculata.] 2》 the seed of the cowpea as food …   English new terms dictionary

  • cowpea — kininė pupuolė statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Pupinių šeimos daržovinis, maistinis, pašarinis, vaistinis kultūrinis augalas (Vigna unguiculata), kilęs iš Afrikos. atitikmenys: lot. Vigna unguiculata angl. black eyed pea; clay pea; cowpea;… …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • cowpea — noun Date: 1776 a sprawling herb (Vigna unguiculata syn. V. sinensis) of the legume family related to the bean and widely cultivated in the southern United States especially for forage and green manure; also its edible seed called also black eyed …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cowpea — noun the black eyed pea, Vigna unguiculata …   Wiktionary

  • Cowpea — Vigna (E) …   EthnoBotanical Dictionary

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