Pigeon pea is a legume which can grow in any warm climate and is mostly found in tropical regions. It originates from India where it probably has been cultivated for over 3500 years. Nowadays it is common in many countries with a suitable climate including East Africa and the Caribbean islands.
Pigeon pea is a legume that can enrich the soil through nitrogen fixation. For that reason is is often grown in mixed cropping systems together with other plants such as sorghum, pearl millet and maize.
Tropical green pea
Frijol de palo
Basic information and facts
Pigeon pea originates from India.
Highest production of pigeon pea is in the Indian subcontinent, eastern Africa and Central America.
Annual, biennial, or perennial:
Pigeon pea is a perennial plant. It will last about 5 years.
Pigeon pea usually grows as a small shrub or small tree.
The flowers grow along slender stalks of 2 to 7 cm long, which emerge from the leaf axils. There are usually 6 to 12 flowers per stalk. Flowers are bright yellow and have reddish-brown markings on the back side of the petals.
Trifoliate leaves. The central leaflet is longer than the side leaflets. The leaves are green and have a velvety upper surface. The underside of the leaves are silvery green and are covered with whitish hairs. The leaves have small, yellowish glands which give them golden hue.
The pods are 4 to 10 cm long and 0.8 to 1.5 cm wide. Pods contain 4 to 7 reddish-brown ovoid seeds.
Climate and weather:
Pigeon peas requires a warm climate, but can survive with relatively low amounts of water. It does well in the semiarid tropical and subtropical climates.
Pigeonpea is often cross-pollinated by bees.
A shrub of 1 to 3 meter tall.
Common spacing is 30-50 cm x 75-150 cm.
Pigeon pea is grown from seed.
Hand picking the pods. Pick the pods green for fresh peas or leave the pods on the plant to dry.
Pigeon peas are often used dried, canned or ground for flour. In India they are mixed with lentils to make ‘daal’ (also spelled dal, dahl or dhal).
Leaves, flowers, seed pods and seed are used as a nutitious animal fodder.
Pigeon pea is also widely used as a cover crop, for green manure, and as an inter crop with other crops such as sorghum and maize.