Vigna unguiculata is a grain legume that originates in Africa. Attributes such as vine shape (climbing, prostrate, or semi-erect), seed color (shades of white, pink, brown, and black), and seed maturation time (60 to 240 days) vary with variety. Pods appear in V-shaped pairs. It is an important source of edible, dry seeds. Immature/green pods, seeds, and leaves are also eaten. It makes an excellent green manure/cover crop and can be fed to livestock as hay, silage, or cut and carry forage. Best varieties for small-scale agriculture are usually those with spreading vines (for ground coverage/animal fodder) and high pod production (for human/livestock consumption). Early-maturing types are suited to short rainy seasons.

Baby Cream

This variety was released from the USDA vegetable laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina. It forms compact erect plants with 15 cm long pods that are filled with 13 small cream-colored peas. This variety is resistant to lodging and root-knot nematodes and performs well under hot and humid conditions. 63-74 days to dry pod harvest.

Bettergro Blackeye Pea

This variety is from the USDA Vegetable Laboratory in Charleston, SC. The plant has a tall upright habit growth habit and is resistant to cowpea curculio and root knot nematodes. Pods are slightly curved and are 17-20 cm long. Plants may produce a second crop. Susceptible to cowpea mosaic virus.

Charleston Blackeye

A root-knot nematode resistant variety released from the USDA vegetable laboratory in Charleston, South Carolina. It has upright growth, 24cm long pods, and cream colored black eyed peas.


A forage variety originally from Mali and selected by the International Livestock Center for Africa. It is a bushy plant with compact pods, can be used as a green manure and cover crop, and is a drought-tolerant forage and edible pulse. Forage is of highest feed value when pods are fully formed and the first pods have ripened. Crimping speeds up the drying process. 


The best local cowpea variety from Magu, Tanzania. Mavuno is Swahili for "harvest". The plants grow as creeping vines with large leaves, long pods, and large cream colored seeds. This variety will flower when the days are short. 

Reddish Brown

This vining variety from Central African Republic produces high yields here in south Florida's humid climate. The fresh market pea, harvested when the pod is mature green and shelled for the green pea, has excellent flvaor. The dry seeds are a reddish brown color. About 50 days to flowering and about 70-80 days to dry pod harvest. 


A low creeping vine that produces plump pods with black seeds. It is often intercropped with upland rice in Thailand. It is a good variety as an understory for other crops as it fixes nitrogen and shades out weeds. Tasty plump pod. Black seed.

Thailand Long

This variety was obtained from a missionary in Thailand in the late 1980's. Selected for longer pods and bush-like growth habit, though in our trials here in south Florida it has more of a creeping growth habit. Because of the flat shape of the seeds and the thin skinned pods, it's possible this variety is more closely related to V. unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis (yardlong bean). Works well as a cover crop. Brown seeds with dark purple mottling. 


This creeping variety is from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria. A network member commented that this variety grows in acidic soils and shows resistance to insects and diseases in the Amazon. It has day-length sensitivity and will flower when the days are short.  


A mix of four quick producing cowpea varieties. 

Chiang Dao

Vining cowpea, good GMCC. Vines less than 1 m long; pods approximately 20 cm (8 in) long. Four months to maturity.

India Black Eyed Pea

Trellising vine. Prolific seed-bearing variety. Beans are white with black spot around hilum.


Speckled dark brown and white seed. Vining-type with a bumpy pod. From Shan State, Myanmar.

Lahu / Mae Ai

Bush variety; shows good resistance to disease; grayish seed.

Carolina Crowder

Produces cranberry red pods with red-brown seeds on bush-like plants. Features improved resistance for root-knot nematodes. 63 days to harvest.

Zipper Cream

A fresh market pea that gained the name "zipper" as the pods are easily opened and green peas removed. 70 days to fresh shelled peas. The thick walls of the pod help it resist curculio, stink bug, and weevil damage. Bushing type with pods produced above canopy. Pods contain large, creamy-white seeds. 


Compact and bushing cowpea from Nigeria. Determinate habit. 50 days to flowering, 70 days to dried pod. Purple flowers and tan colored seeds.