'Iron and Clay' Cowpea
'Iron and Clay' Cowpea

'Iron and Clay' Cowpea

Regular price $3.50 Sale

Vigna unguiculata

Origin: Africa, via the American South

Improvement status: Landrace

Seeds per packet: ~45

Germination tested 12/23: 50% (Below Standard)

Life cycle: Cultivar

This special pair of peas (typically grown together and considered a single variety at this point) were brought from Africa to the U.S. by enslaved Africans long before the American Revolution. According to George Washington Carver's 1908 Cookbook of Field Pea Recipes, the Clay peas were carried as rations by Confederate soldiers, while both Iron and Clay peas sustained newly freed Black people after the Civil War. The plants themselves are vigorous and drought hardy, and make a great nitrogen-fixing cover crop. Like all cowpeas, the leaves are edible too.

This is considered a day-length-sensitive variety, so it typically doesn't start flowering until nights lengthen to around 11 hours. Late maturing pods can be harvested for the kitchen (fresh cowpeas are our favorite!) or used for animal fodder. This variety has good root-knot nematode resistance. The sprawling vines will climb if given a chance, and this will increase productivity. 6-7 in. pods are loaded light tan and brown seeds.

Our seeds were grown by our friend Olivia Gamber in Philadelphia.