Gray Speckled Palapye Cowpea
Vigna unguiculata group unguiculata
Origin: Palapye, Botswana
Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~50
Germination tested 12/2019: 95%
Life cycle: Annual
The seeds of this cowpea are a beautiful mottled purple, very much resembling the 'Tetateche Gray Mottled' variety we sell, but whereas the Tetapeche traces its most recent provenance to northern Mexico, this 'Gray Speckled Palapye' was collected in recent decades in Botswana — on the African continent, where cowpeas 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. We got these seeds from Dr. William Woys Weaver's Roughwood Collection. The Palapye is a highly productive cowpea which our friends at Adaptive Seeds in Oregon praise for being one of the only cowpeas 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. Cowpeas are typically grown for their seeds (the most well-known cowpea is the "black-eyed pea"), which can be cooked from a fresh or dried state, or for their pods, which are like earthier green beans. But the nutritional powerhouse of cowpeas 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 cowpeas also make great cover crops and green manure, often grown between other crops or tilled into the soil. If you're not growing cowpeas, you should definitely give them a try!
These seeds were grown by Dr. William Woys Weaver's Roughwood Seed Collection, which will receive half of the proceeds of each purchase.
GROWING TIPS: Direct seed an inch deep in two rows side by side about 12-18 inches apart, plants could be 4-8 inches apart. Allow 2 feet on either side for the plants to sprawl. Plants tend to be short but productive, and you can probably forego a trellis unless you really want to use one. Prefers full sun.