Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology

pp 5941-5944

Pigeon Pea: Origins and Development

  • Eleanor Kingwell-BanhamAffiliated withInstitute of Archaeology, University College London Email author 
  • , Dorian Q. FullerAffiliated withInstitute of Archaeology, University College London

Basic Species Information

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan L. Millsp.), also known as toor, red gram, Congo pea, no-eye pea, kadios, and tropical green pea, is a legume grown in tropical and semitropical regions across the Old and New Worlds. While New World cultivation is relatively recent, pigeon pea is a traditional crop of South Asia and western and central Africa and an African diaspora in the Caribbean. It is grown as a food and/or fodder crop and has additional use as a green manure crop.

Pigeon pea can grow up to around 4 m in height. It is a drought-tolerant crop and can grow with less than 300 mm annual rainfall due to its long tap roots, although it prefers 600–1,000 mm. The ideal temperature range for pigeon pea is 18–30 °C; however it can resist temperatures over 35 °C. It is therefore a crop particularly suited to the drier tropics. It can be grown at altitudes of up to approximately 2,000 m, as long as the temperature is not too low. The plant takes betwe ...

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