|Neutral ||htop ||On Feb 5, 2008, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:
I have not grown this woody shrub to small tree. Pigeon pea, Puerto Rico Bean, Gandul, Dhal, Congo Pea (Cajanus cajan) is native to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka (Asia), Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda (Africa) and naturalized as well as cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics. It has become naturalized in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It is likely that pigeon pea originated in India and was transported to Africa a millennia ago where different strains arose. Then, in post-Columbian times, these were brought to the new world. Although it is a perennial, it is mainly grown as an annual as a food source.
Pigeon pea has a taproot that can grow to 2 meters in length and its root system is extensive. The trifoliate, alternate, pubescent leaves spiral around the stem with the oblong to lanceolate leaflets measuring 2 to10 cm long and 2 to 4 cm wide. They are green on the top surface and greyish-green on the undersides. Although the blooms are usually yellow, they sometimes have purple or red streaks. They may also be totally red. The acuminate, flat, pubescent seedpods are 5 to 9 cm long and 12 to13 mm wide. Each contain 2 to 9 round to oval seeds which vary in color from light beige to dark brown.
According to the Tropical Forages website:
Pigeon pea is "[p]rimarily grown as a grain crop for seed for human consumption (pulse, vegetable) with over 4 million hectares cultivated worldwide. The foliage may be cut and fed to livestock fresh or conserved. Stems are used for firewood. Foliage can be browsed but the branches are brittle and break as the animals pull the leaves. Can be used as a semi-permanent, perennial component in alley cropping systems. Grown as hedgerow for windbreaks, and as ground cover or shade cover for establishing plantation crops, e.g. coffee. Good nitrogen fixation makes it a useful green manure ; most of fixed N is transferred to the developing seed after flowering."