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Vigna unguiculata

Authority(L.) Walp.
SynonymsDolichos biflorus L., Dolichos catjang L., Dolichos melanophtalmos DC., Dolichos sinensis L., Dolichos unguiculata L., Dolichos unguiculatus L., Vigna catjang (Burm. f.) Walp., Vigna catjiang (Burm. f.) Walp. var. sinensis (L.), Vigna sesquipedalis (L.) Fruw, Vigna sinensis (L.) Hassk., Vigna sinensis ssp. sinensis (L.) Hassk., Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis (L.) Verdc., Vigna unguiculata var. catjang Bertoni
Common namesboeme, catjang, caupí, cow pea, cowpea, frijol de vaca, jiangdou, niebe, pois inconnu, pois liane, pois manger cochon, southern pea (USA), yard long bean
Ecocrop code2153

DESCRIPTION: It is a herbaceous, prostrate, climbing, or sub-erect to erect legume, growing 15-80 cm high. Erect and bushy to prostrate and creeping growth habits exist depending on cultivar and growing conditions. Cowpeas develop strong root systems that have many spreading laterals in the surface soil. The stems have circular sections and are pock marked. They are sometimes slightly grooved and are glabrous. The texture is fibrous and hard, firm and not inflated when young. Leaves are alternate and trifoliolate and the leaflets are oval, pointed (6-15 cm x 4-11 cm). They are generally entire and sometimes lobed. Genotypes vary in the degree of pubescence, but all cultivated cowpeas are less glabrous than other legumes such as common bean and soybean. Stipules are spurred at the base, stipels are hardly visible. Inflorescence racemose, flowers white, cream, yellow, mauve or purple. Pods usually occur in pairs forming a V, and are non-dehiscent. Pod orientation is mostly pendant and vertical. Pod length ranges from 6.5-25 cm and the width ranges from 3-12 mm. Under warm conditions, pod development is rapid and may take only two weeks from pollination to pod maturation. Each pod holds from 8 to 20 seeds in a crowded orientation. Seed length is between 6-11 mm and the width is from 4-9 mm. The testa colour also varies from white, pinky-white, pink, tan, brown, and black. The hylum is often ringed black or brown, strongly contrasting with the shade of the testa and hence the name "blackeyed beans" of the Antilles. The testa is thick and of ellipsoid and more or less rounded form. Number of seeds per kg is from 4600 up to 16000. USES: Cowpea is one of the most important grain legumes in Africa and in parts of the Americas and Asia. In addition to its dry grain, fresh-shelled 'peas', fresh pods, and fresh and dried leaves and flowers are consumed in some regions. The plant is used as cut and carry forage, and for hay and silage. Cowpea forms highly effective associations with a wide range of native nitrogen fixing strains of Rhizobium bacteria and with mycorrhizae that allows the species to tolerate poor soils. Used as a green manure, it can be incorporated into the soil 8-10 weeks after sowing, and can provide the equivalent of 80 kg/ha N to a subsequent crop. KILLING T.: It is susceptible to frost. GROWING PERIOD: Annual. Some cowpea accessions may start flowering 30 days after sowing and are ready for harvest of dry seeds 25 days later; others may take more than 90 days to flower, and 210-240 days to mature. COMMON NAMES: Cowpea, crowder pea, clack-eyed pea, couthern pea, atimbawini, boeme, boontjie, catjang, caupí, frijol de vaca, imbumba, isihlumaya. FURTHER INF.: It is native of West Africa and cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics between 40ºN and 30ºS at elevations between sea level and 2000 m. Occurs in areas with annual rainfall between 400-2000 mm and summer temperatures between 25-35°C. Found on a wide range of very acid (pH 4) to strongly alkaline also low-fertility soils from sands to heavy, well-drained clays, with a preference for lighter soils. It does not tolerate extended flooding or salinity. Most cowpea accessions exhibit classic short-day responses with respect to time of flowering, although a range of sensitivities occur and the effect is modulated by temperature. It is mainly autogamous and in most environments outcrossing is low (less than 5%), but in the presence of bumble bees or other large insects, out-crossing can be much higher. Flowers open early in the morning, close by noon and may fall off during the same day. The photoperiodism of many African landraces confers adaptation to a specific latitude and rainfall pattern such that flowering and pod development coincide with the end of the rainy season in a particular place ensuring that pods mature in dry weather thus avoiding pod rots and other diseases. The photosynthetic pathway is C3 and the leaves have full maximal rates of photosynthesis at full expansion. Vegetative DM production 3-10 t/ha in 8-12 weeks; grain production 250-4000 kg/ha.
Grassland Index
Purdue NewCROP
Tropical forages 2005