AskDefine | Define cowpea

Dictionary Definition

cowpea

Noun

1 fruit or seed of the cowpea plant [syn: black-eyed pea]
2 sprawling Old World annual cultivated especially in southern United States for food and forage and green manure [syn: cowpea plant, black-eyed pea, Vigna unguiculata, Vigna sinensis]
3 eaten fresh as shell beans or dried [syn: black-eyed pea]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. the black-eyed pea

Extensive Definition

The Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) 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. 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 (Blade, IITA-2005). 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, (Sub-Saharan Africa section, Science and Development network website, 2008)
Southern peas are a common food item in the southern United States, where they are sometimes called crowder peas. They are so named because they appear to be crowded into their pods. The crowding causes them to have a squarish shape rather than round.
cowpea in Dhivehi: ރިހަ ތޮޅި
cowpea in Spanish: Vigna unguiculata
cowpea in French: Vigna unguiculata
cowpea in Korean: 동부
cowpea in Indonesian: Cowpea
cowpea in Japanese: ササゲ
cowpea in Portuguese: Vigna unguiculata
cowpea in Swedish: Ögonböna
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