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Vigna unguiculata unguiculata - (L.) Walp.

Common Name Black-Eyed Pea
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known
Range Original range is uncertain, perhaps tropical Africa.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Vigna unguiculata unguiculata Black-Eyed Pea

Vigna unguiculata unguiculata Black-Eyed Pea


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Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata, or commonly known as Black-Eyed Pea, is a subspecies of cowpea often cultivated for its edible seeds. It is an annual climbing plant growing up to 4 m in length with straight firm pods. The leaves have three leaflets. Flowers which are white, yellow or blue and large occur often in pairs on the end of long flowering shoots. The seeds are white with a black/dark spot. Being a legume, it has a capability to fix atmospheric nitrogen and functions as a green manure. The seeds are cooked. Immature seeds are used as a vegetable while mature seeds are added to soups and stews or ground into a powder. The seeds can also be sprouted then eaten raw or cooked. Roasted seeds are grounded into a powder and used like coffee. Immature seedpods are eaten raw or cooked. Leaves are cooked like spinach. Crushed leaves are used in a poultice for broken bones.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Vigna unguiculata unguiculata is a ANNUAL CLIMBER growing to 4 m (13ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Dolichos biflorus L. Dolichos catjang L. Dolichos hastifolius Schnizl. Dolichos lubia Forssk. Dolich

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

Seed - cooked[46 ]. They can be eaten whilst still green or allowed to dry[46 ]. The immature seeds are used as a vegetable - they can be steamed, boiled, stir-fried etc[301 ]. Mature seeds are added to soups and stews, ground into a powder and used with cereal flour for making cakes, bread etc, or fermented into dosa[301 ]. The seeds can also be sprouted and then eaten raw or cooked in stir-fries etc[301 ]. The roasted seed can be ground into a powder and used like coffee[301 ]. Immature seedpods - raw or cooked[46 , 301 ]. Leaves - cooked like spinach[301 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The crushed leaves are used in a poultice to heal and bond broken bones[348 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Green manure

Agroforestry Uses: Grown as a green manure crop[46 ]. Other Uses None known

Special Uses

Food Forest  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the lowland tropics, where it can also be cultivated at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 35°c, but can tolerate 10 - 40°c[418 ]. The plant cannot tolerate frost It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 400 - 4,100mm[418 ]. Prefers a position in full sun, tolerating light shade[418 ]. Succeeds in a wide variety of soils, from sandy loams to clays, so long as they are well-drained[300 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8.8[418 ]. Good yields have been obtained on peaty soils, but the plant dislikes alkaline soils since this reduces nodulation of bacteria on the roots and causes chlorosis of the leaves[300 ]. Young seed pods can be harvested about 2 months after sowing, whilst mature seeds can be obtained in 3 - 5 months[300 ]. Up to 6 tonnes per hectare of pods can be obtained per hectare, or 400 - 750kg of dried seed[300 ]. There are many named varieties[300 , 301 ]. Most cultivars are day-length neutral, though short-day forms are also known[300 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[755 ]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and sow 1 - 3cm deep in situ[300 ]. The seed germinates best when the soil temperature is above 21°c[300 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Agwa, Akara-binch, Akedi, Akitereku ase, Amuli, Asedua kokoo, Barbati, Be-hlawi, Beloi, Besei, Black eye pea, Black-eyed bean, Bojo, Boo, Bora bean, Bori, Dau den, Dolique a oeil noir, Dunguri, Eboo, Eggobe, Ekiyindiru, E-lel, Enkoole, Ere, Ewa, Ewe, Feijao-macanha, Frijol de vaca, Imare, Iniangu, Jiang dou, Kacang merah, Kattukanam, Kelege kelegete, Kuerbse, Laputu, Likote, Madan bean, Mandala, Mpindi, Mugobiswa, Mwende, Ngor, Nhebe-limboncadje, Nhebe-limboque, Niebe, Nsili, Nyebe, Nyele, Obo, Omugobe, Peanut bean, Pini, Sasage, Sbaithai, Shirshira, Tau kok, Te bin, Thua pum, Tindlubu, Tinhlumayo, Towo, Wake, Wakei, Watalo-binch, Yoo, adagora, adagura, adagura-kwolla, adonguari, adroso, akoro bong, amaret, amuli, asparagus bean, atera-argobba, atera-kech'ene, atimbawini, augenbohne, bachapin bean, bean, black eye bean, black-eye pea, black-eyed bean, black-eyed-pea, bodi bean, boojwoge, boontjie, brown-eyed bean, catjang, catjang cowpea, chiclayo, chiluwe, costeño, cow pea, cowpea, crowder pea, crowder-pea, digir, dinaba, dinawa, dinawa ja badogwa, dinawa ja thsekene, dolique de chine, dolique mongette, dongbu, eboo, eggobe, ekiyindiru, enkoole/re, ere bean, fagiolino dall'occhio, feijao frade, feijao nhemba, feijao-da-china, feijão-fradinho, frijol de costa, gakakurukadi, gayan gayan, habb-ul-quilt, haricot a oeil noir, haricot dolique, haricot indigène, haricot kilometre, haricot mongette, haricot-dolique, hindu cowpea, horse gram, horse gram (grain), hurali, huruli, ilanda, imare, imbumba, inandala, indumba, isihlumaya, isokolo, jiang dou, judía catjang, ka'ani, kaanam, kaffer boontjie, kafferboontjie, kaffir bean, kaffir pea, kalathi, kalaya, kanyangube, kanyembanyemba, keanam, khalva, khobwe, kiyindiru, koertjie, kollu, kolobo osu, kolobo osubi, kotate, ko??u (seed), kroo bean, kulastha, kulatha, kulathi, kulattha, kulattha (seed), kulitha, kulthi, kunde, kurathi, kurti-kalai kulti, ka?am, lalputu, libose, liboshi, likote, likuvi, long bean, long bean|mekaral / li -me / nil me, loubia, lubia helow/hellu, madras gram, makunde gakakurukadi, mbalo, mbawen nyangana, mei dou, mkunde, mkundemwitu, monawa, mpindi, mtambe, mudiraa, mugobiswa, munaoa, munawa, muriwo we nyemba, muthera, mutira, mutirai, nawa, nawa-ea-setswana, ngetenemuri, ngunde, niebe, niébé, njeri, nkunda, nkunde, nsansa, nseula, nyawa, nyele, nyemba, nyeni ci thoroko, nyolwa, obo, omakunde, omugobe, omugobe ishwa, ona, osubi, otyang gatagata, otyanga tyanga, owambo bean, pea bean, pois à vaches, polon me, purple-eyed bean, rabiza, reeve's-pea, sang-e-sikan, sasage, snake bean, snake-bean, southern pea, southern-pea, sow-pea, tinyawa, tinyawo, tutuli bean, ulavalu, umcwasibe, vardhipatraka, vardhipatraka kulashta, vigna cinese, waken gizo, wild cowpea, yard-long bean, zindulumayo, zinzumaya, |khaib, ögonböna.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Afghanistan, Africa, Angola, Asia, Australia, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Caribbean, Central Africa, Central America, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, East Africa, East Timor, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, French Guiana, Gambia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Laos, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Niue, North America, Northeastern India, Pacific, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Saudi Arabia, SE Asia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Southern Africa, South America, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Togo, Uganda, USA, Vietnam, West Africa, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Vigna angularisAdzuki BeanAnnual0.8 10-12 FLMHSNDM422
Vigna hoseiSarawak BeanPerennial Climber1.0 10-12 FLMHSNMWe004
Vigna mungoBlack Gram, Urd Bean, Black Matpe, Black Mung BeanAnnual1.0 10-12 FLMHNMWe422
Vigna radiataMung Bean, Thai Mung BeanAnnual0.8 10-12 FLMHSNDM422
Vigna unguiculata cylindricaJerusalem PeaAnnual0.5 10-12  LMNM210

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(L.) Walp.

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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