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Plant description:

A woody shrub that reaches up to 3m high, grown in the tropics and subtropics for various uses. It is short-lived with deep taproots and can tolerate drought and poor soil conditions. The stems are woody at the base, angular and branching. The leaves are alternate and trifoliate. The flowers are yellow that cluster at the tips of the bush’s upper branches and attract bees and other insects. Seeds, seedpods, leaves, and young shoots are all edible. Pigeon pea is also well known for its medicinal uses.

Family: Fabaceae

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Botanical name

Cajanus cajan

Common name(s)

Pigeon pea

Plant Care

Categories

Flowers

The flowers are yellow that cluster at the tips of the bush's upper branches. The flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects.

Origin

Foliage

The stems are woody at the base, angular and branching. The leaves are alternate and trifoliate.

Fruit

A flat, straight, pubescent pod. It contains 2-9 seeds that are brown, red or black in colour, small and sometimes hard-coated.

Soil Conditions

Does best in moist, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.

Uses

Young seeds can be cooked and eaten like peas. Mature seeds are dried and added to soups and stews. The seed can be used instead of soya bean to make tempeh or tofu. Leaves and young shoots can be cooked and used as a vegetable.

Interesting planting ideas

Shelters young, delicate plants and lets enough light through for things to grow underneath. A hedge makes a good windbreak and the root nodules release nitrogen into the soil that can be used by other plants.

Interesting info

Used in food poisoning, as colic and in constipation. Chinese folk medicine uses pigeon pea leaves to staunch blood, as an analgesic and to kill parasites. In parts of India, the leaf, seeds and young stems are used to cure gingivitis, stomatitis and as a toothbrush.

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