AFRICAN PEA, Grey Speckled Palapye
Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata
Seeds per pack ~ 60
Germination: 95% (Packed for 2023)
This vegetable seems to have a different name in each section of the country. Southern peas are also called cowpeas, field peas, crowder peas, and black-eyed peas. Several varieties have historically been cultivated in Africa, and were transported to the Americas via the transatlantic slave trade, hence a new term, African Peas. By whatever name you call them, they’re an old favorite in the South and can be grown where both days and nights are warm for a period of 60-90 days.
The seeds of this African pea are a beautiful mottled purple. It very much resembles the 'Tetateche Grey-Mottled' variety introduced by Native Seeds/SEARCH, but whereas the Tetapeche traces its most recent provenance to northern Mexico, the 'Grey Speckled Palapye' was collected in recent decades in Botswana — on the continent where this species originated. It's fascinating to imagine how these plants found their way from isolated indigenous communities in Africa to isolated indigenous communities in the Americas.
Our stock of seeds traces back to Dr. William Woys Weaver's Roughwood Collection in Pennsylvania. The Palapye is a highly productive African pea which our friends at Adaptive Seeds in Oregon praise for being one of the only Southern peas to thrive in their unique climate. Given that it also thrives in the mid-Atlantic and south-central Africa, it's safe to assume this is a versatile legume that will do well almost anywhere. This species is typically grown for its protein-rich seeds (the most well-known of the species is the "black-eyed pea"), which can be cooked fresh or dried, or for their pods, which are like earthier green beans.
But the nutritional powerhouse of African peas is actually the leaves, which are rich in protein and mild in flavor. They are tasty raw or cooked, and are produced in abundance. Nitrogen-fixing Vigna unguiculata also make great cover crops and green manure, often grown between other crops or tilled into the soil. If you're not growing African peas, you don't know what you're missing!