Grey Speckled Palapye Cowpea
Vigna unguiculata group unguiculata
40 seeds minimum
Germination tested 12/2017: 98%
Origin: Palapye, Botswana
The seeds of this cowpea are a beautiful mottled purple, very much resembling the 'Tetateche Grey-Mottled' variety we sell, but whereas the Tetapeche traces its most recent provenance to northern Mexico, this 'Grey 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.
Direct seed an inch deep in two rows side by side about 18-24 inches apart. Plants should be 6-8 inches apart. Allow 2-3 feet on either side of this two-row bed for the plants to sprawl. You can trellis if you want to save on space (in which case you could build one long trellis down the middle of your bed and plant along side it on both sides). We have been farming in an area with enough space and less time on our hands for trellising cowpeas, so we let them sprawl and it works well.