Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.
Syn.: Cajanus indicus Spreng.
Pigeon pea, Dhal, Gandul, Red gram, Congo pea, Gungo pea, No eye pea
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Pigeon peas are popular food in developing tropical countries. Nutritious and
wholesome, the green seeds (and pods) serve as vegetable. Ripe seeds are a
source of flour, used split (dhal) in soups or eaten with rice. Dhal contains
as much as 22% protein, depending on cv and location. Tender leaves are rarely
used as a potherb. Ripe seeds may be germinated and eaten as sprouts. Plants
produce forage quickly and can be used as a perennial forage crop or used for
green manure. Often grown as a shade crop for tree crops or vanilla, a cover
crop, or occasionally as a windbreak hedge. In Thailand and N. Bengal, pigeon
pea serves as host for the scale insect which produces lac or sticklac. In
Malagasy the leaves are used as food for the silkworm. Dried stalks serve for
fuel, thatch and basketry. (Duke, 1981a).
Morton (1976) lists many folk medicinal uses for pigeon pea. In India and
Java, the young leaves are applied to sores. Indochinese claim that powdered
leaves help expel bladderstones. Salted leaf juice is taken for jaundice. In
Argentina the leaf decoction is prized for genital and other skin irritations,
especially in females. Floral decoctions are used for bronchitis, coughs, and
pneumonia. Chinese shops sell dried roots as an alexeritic, anthelminthic,
expectorant, sedative, and vulnerary. Leaves are also used for toothache,
mouthwash, sore gums, child-delivery, dysentery. Scorched seed, added to
coffee, are said to alleviate headache and vertigo. Fresh seeds are said to
help incontinence of urine in males, while immature fruits are believed of use
in liver and kidney ailments. (Duke, 1981a).
Analysis of dhal (without husk) gave the following values: moisture, 15.2;
protein, 22.3; fat (ether extract), 1.7; mineral matter, 3.6; carbohydrate,
57.2; Ca, 9.1; and P, 0.26%; carotene evaluated as vitamin A, 220 IU and
vitamin B1, 150 IU per 100 g. Sun-dried seeds of Cajanus cajan are
reported to contain (per 100 g) 345 calories, 9.9% moisture, 19.5 g protein,
1.3 g fat, 65.5 g carbohydrate, 1.3 g fiber, 3.8 g ash, 161 mg Ca, 285 mg P,
15.0 mg Fe, 55 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.72 mg thiamine, 0.14 mg
riboflavin, and 2.9 mg niacin. Immature seeds of Cajanus cajan are
reported to contain per 100 g, 117 calories, 69.5% moisture, 7.2 g protein, 0.6
g fat, 21.3 g total carbohydrate, 3.3 g fiber, 1.4 g ash, 29 mg Ca, 135 mg P,
1.3 mg Fe, 5 mg Na, 563 mg K, 145 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.40 mg
thiamine, 0.25 mg riboflavin, 2.4 mg niacin, and 26 mg ascorbic acid/100 g. Of
the total amino acids, 6.7% is arginine, 1.2% cystine, 3.4% histidine, 3.8%
isoleucine, 7.6% leucine, 7.0% lysine, 1.5% methionine, 8.7% phenylalanine,
3.4% threonine, 2.2% tyrosine, 5.0% valine, 9.8 aspartic acid, 19.2% glutamic
acid, 6.4% alanine, 3.6% glycine, 4.4% proline, 5.0% serine with 0 values for
canavanine, citrulline and homoserine. Methionine, cystine, and tryptophane
are the main limiting amino acids. However, in combination with cereals, as
pigeon peas are always eaten, this legume contributes to a nutritionally
balanced human food. The oil of the seeds contains 5.7% linolenic acid, 51.4%
linoleic, 6.3% oleic, and 36.6% saturated fatty acids. Seeds are reported to
contain trypsin inhibitors and chymotrypsin inhibitors. Fresh green forage
contains 70.4% moisture, 7.1 crude protein, 10.7 crude fiber, 7.9 N-free
extract, 1.6 fat, 2.3 ash. The whole plant, dried and ground contains 1,1.2%
moisture, 14.8 crude protein, 28.9 crude fiber, 39.9 N-free extract, 1.7
fat, and 3.5 ash. (Duke, 1981a).
Perennial woody shrub, mostly grown as an annual for the legume; stems strong,
woody, to 4 m tall, freely branching; root system deep and extensive, to about
2 m, with a taproot. Leaves alternate, pinnately trifoliolate, stipulate;
stipels small, subulate; leaflets lanceolate to elliptic, entire, acute
apically and basally, penninerved, resinous on lower surface and pubescent, to
15 cm long and 6 cm wide. Inflorescence in terminal or axillary racemes in the
upper branches of the bush. Flowers multi-colored with yellow predominant,
red, purple, orange occur in streaks or fully cover the dorsal side of the
flag, zygomorphic. Pods compressed, 29-seeded, not shattering in the field.
Seeds lenticular to ovoid, to 8 mm in diameter, about 10 seeds per gram,
separated from each other in the pod by slight depressions. Germination
cryptocotylar. (Duke, 1981a).
Many cvs differ in height, habit of growth, color of flower, time of maturity,
color, and shape of pods, and color, size, and shape of seed. Perennial types
assume a tree-like appearance, yield well the first year but poorer in later
years; suitable for forage, cover purposes, shade and for hedge plants. Annual
(weak perennial) types are small plants grown as field crops, mainly cultivated
for seed purposes, with very good quality white-seeded cvs ('Gujerat' in
Ceylon) and red-seeded cvs (common in areas south of Bombay). Also in India
and Ceylon the cvs 'Tur 5' and 'Tenkasi' are extensively grown. High-yield,
short-duration Indian cvs include 'Co-l', 'Kanke 3', 'Kanke 9', 'Makta', 'Pusa
ageta', 'Sharda', 'T-21', and 'UPAS-120'. In Florida day-neutral 'Amarillo'
can be sown and harvested at different times throughout the year. Other good
cvs are 'Morgan Congo', 'Cuban Congo' and 'No-eye Pea'. Of the better yielding
cvs in trials in Uganda 'CIVE1', 'UC948', 'UC2288', 'UC3035' and 'UC16' are
"spray types" where secondary branches are almost as long as the main stem, and
there are few tertiaries; 'UC1377' and 'UC959' are "bush types". Assigned to
the Hindustani and African Centers of Diversity, pigeon pea or cvs thereof is
reported to exhibit tolerance to disease, drought, frost, high pil, laterite,
low pH, nematodes, photoperiod, Salt, sand, virus, waterlogging, weed, wilt,
and wind. (2n = 22, 44, 66). (Duke, 1981a).
Probably native to India, pigeon pea was brought millennia ago to Africa where
different strains developed. These were brought to the new world in
post-Columbian times. Truly wild Cajanus has never been found; they
exist mostly as remnants of cultivations. In several places Cajanus
persists in the forest. The closest wild relative, Atylosia cajanifolia
Haines, has been found in some localities in East India. Most other
Atylosias are found scattered throughout India, while in North Australia
a group of endemic Atylosia species grow. In Africa Cajanus
kerstingii grows in the drier belts of Senegal, Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria.
Pigeon peas occur throughout the tropical and subtropical regions, as well as
the warmer temperate regions (as North Carolina) from 30°N to
30°S (Duke, 1981a).
Pigeon pea is remarkably drought resistant, tolerating dry areas with less than
65 cm annual rainfall, even producing seed profusely under dry zone conditions,
as the crop matures early and the incidence of pest damage is low. Pigeon pea
is more or less photoperiod-sensitive; short days decrease time to flowering.
Under humid conditions pigeon pea tends to produce luxuriant vegetative growth,
rain during the time offlowering causes defective fertilization and permits
attack by pod-caterpillars. Annual precipitation of 610 dm is most suitable,
with moist conditions for the first two growing months, drier conditions for
flowering and harvest. Growing best under temperatures of 1829°C,
some cvs will tolerate 10°C under dry conditions and 35°C
under moister conditions. The plant is sensitive to waterlogging and frost.
It will grow in all types of soils, varying from sand to heavy clay loams,
well-drained medium heavy loams being best. Some cvs tolerate 612 mmhos/cm
salinity. Ranging from Warm Temperate Moist to Wet through Tropical Desert to
Wet Forest Life Zones, pigeon pea has been reported to tolerate annual
precipitation of 5.340.3 dm (mean of 60 cases 14.5 dm), annual mean
temperature of 15.827.8°C (mean of 60 cases = 24.4°C), and
pH of 4.5 to 8.4 (mean of 44 cases = 6.4). (Duke, 1981a).
Seeds are sown where desired, in pure stands at about 922 kg/ha for rows, but
sometimes it is broadcast. Seed germinate in about 2 weeks. Quite frequently
(in India) pigeon pea is grown mixed with other crops or grown in alternate
rows with rows of sorghum, groundnuts, sesame, cotton, pineapples, millets or
maize. For pure crops pigeon pea should be sown 2.55 cm deep in rows 40120
cm by 3060 cm. When sown as a mixture, it should be sown in widely spaced
rows ranging from 1.22.1 m depending on the associated crop. About 34 seeds
may be planted in each hill, and later thinned to 2 plants per hill. Plants
show little response to fertilizers, e.g., mixed plantings with millet in India
showed negative response to N. For the first month, pigeon pea shares the
intercultivation of the main crop. In the tropics, 20100 kg/ha phosphoric
acid are recommended. S, with or without P, can significantly increase seed
yield and nitrogen fixation. Early cvs start podding in 12 weeks but
maturation requires 56 months. Late cvs require 912 mos. The crop may be
ratooned for forage or let persist for 35 years. Seed yields drop
considerably after the first year, and disease build-up may reduce stand.
In India pigeon peas are sown in JuneJuly. Annual medium and late cvs flower
in January and yield a first crop in MarchApril (North India). Early and
medium cvs flower in OctoberNovember, yielding in DecemberJanuary (Central
and South India). Very early cvs have not been widely accepted. In East
Africa harvests are taken in JuneJuly. In the Caribbean areas, green pods are
harvested for home consumption or canning. Caribbeans have developed dwarf cvs
with more uniform pod maturity which are mowed and threshed with a combine
harvester. Depending on the cv, the location and time of sowing, flowering can
occur as early as 100 to as late as 430 days. In harvesting a first crop it
may be necessary to pick the pods by hand. Mature crop is harvested by cutting
the whole plant with a sickle. Cut plants, often still with green leaves are
dried in the field. Threshing by wooden flails or trampling is carried out on
threshing floors. Grain is then cleaned by winnowing. Mechanical threshing
and seed cleaning is possible.
Green-pod yields vary from 1,000 to 9,000 kg/ha. Dried seed yields may reach
2,500 kg/ha in pure stands, but average yields are closer to 600 kg/ha. Of
seven promising cvs in Uganda, 'CIVE1' yielded 889 kg seed/ha with a
grain/straw ratio of 0.318, '16' on the other hand with the highest seed yield
of 1,225 kg/ha had a grain/straw ratio of only 0.224 (Khan and Rachie, 1972).
India's pigeon pea production, 1,818,000 MT from 2,540,000 hectares (1975) is
greater than that of any other country. Pigeon pea is cultivated commercially
(for canning) in the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii;
Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda grow it mostly for home
consumption. Elsewhere in the tropics it is more a crop of kitchen gardens and
hedges. In 1975, Asia led world production, 1,845,000 MT, averaging 706 kg/ha,
Africa produced 70,000 MT averaging 406 kg/ha, North America produced 41,000
MT, averaging 1,415 kg/ha, South America produced 4,000 MT averaging 449 kg/ha.
India was the leading producer country, with 1,818,000 MT, but averaged only
716 kg/ha, as compared with the Dominican Republic where yields were reported
at 2,194 kg/ha (FAO, 1975a). However, the Indian yields are dry seed while the
Dominican yields are fresh seeds or pods (Duke, 1981a).
Experimental yields have exceeded 2,500 kg/ha. Grain:straw ratios are reported
to range from 0.224 to 0.318 (Duke, 1981b), suggesting that a straw factor of 3
be used in phytomass calculations. Biomass yields of 7 MT/ha are reported in
Florida, 12 MT/ha in Cuba, while 2 MT of woody stalks used as fuel is obtained
per hectare in a growing season in India (NAS, 1980a). There in India, the
spindly stalks are extensively used as a cooking fuel, just as they are in
Malawi. Historically, the stalks were employed to make the charcoas used in
Many fungal diseases (31), involving 45 pathogens, are known; the most serious
is wilt disease (Fusarium udum), favored by soil temperatures of
17°20°C. The fungus enters the plant through the roots and may persist
in soilborne stubble for a long time. The only effective control measure is
development of resistant cvs (e.g., 'C-ll,' 'C-36,' 'NP-15,' 'NP-38,' and
'T-17'). Rotation with tobacco and intercropping with sorghum is said to
decrease the wilt problem. Other fungi include: Cercospora spp.,
Colletotrichum cajanae, Corticium solani, Diploidia cajani, Leveillula taurica,
Macrophomina phaseoli, Phaeolus manihotis, Phoma cajani, Phyllosticta cajani,
Phytophthora sp., Rhizoctonia bataticola, Rosellinia sp.,
Sclerotium rolfsii, and Uredo cajani (rust). So far, economic
damages by these have been small or negligible, but rust is locally of some
importance. Pigeon pea is also attacked by the bacterium Xanthomonas cajani
and the sterility mosaic and yellow mosaic viruses. Sterility mosaic is
being recognized as a serious economic threat. Of minor importance are the
nematodes isolated from pigeon pea. They include: Helicotylenchus
cavevessi, H. dihystera, H. microcephalus, H. pseudorobustus, Heterodera
spp., H. cajani, H. trifolii, Hoplolaimus indicus, Meloidogyne hapla, M.
incognita acrita, M. javanica, M. javanica bauruensi, Pratylenchus spp.,
Radopholus similis, Rotylenchulus reniformis, Scutellonema bradys, Scutellonema
clathricaudatum, Trichodorus mirzai, Tylenchorhynchus brassicae, T. indicus,
Xiphinema campinense, and X. ifacolum. Damage caused by insect pests is a
major constraint on yield in most areas. Few of the more than 100 species of
insects recorded as damaging the crop in India can be regarded as major pests.
The podborer, Heliothis zea, is commonly regarded as the key pest
throughout Africa and Asia. It is particularly damaging on early formed pods.
In many parts of India the podfly, Melanagromyza obtuse, takes over as
the dominant pest later in the season. In some areas, a newly recognized
hymenopteran pest, Tanaostigmodes, can also cause extensive pod damage
late in the season. Pests which can be locally or seasonally important are
plume moth (Exelastis atomosa), blue butterfly (Euchrysops
cnejus), leaf tier (Eucosma critica), bud weevil (Ceutorhynchus
aspurulus), spotted podborer (Maruca testulalis), pea podborer
(Etiella zinckenella) and bugs (Clavigralla spp.). A blister
beetle (Mylabris pustulata) which destroys flowers can be a spectacular
but localized pest. Thrips (Frankliniella schultzei, Megalurothrips
usitatus) may cause premature flower drop. In general, the determinate
(clustering) plants lose more to lepidopterous borers while podfly causes more
damage to the later indeterminate cvs. The indeterminate cvs have a greater
compensatory potential and, where the pests are not controlled, commonly yield
more than the clustering types. In the West lndies, the leafhopper Empoasca
fabilis is combatted with malathion while podborers Ufa rubedinela,
Ancylostomia stercorea, and Heliothis virescens are combatted with
DDT, Dipterex and Gardona. In Trinidad the black aphid Aphis craceivora
may develop heavy infestations. Bruchids (Callosobruchus spp.) attack
the crop in the fields and then build up in stored pods or seeds. The use of
insecticides is feasible, but as yet uneconomic. A few farmers use
insecticides; DDT is still the most effective and least expensive. During its
first 60 days, pigeon pea requires weed control. Preemergence chloramben,
though effective, may slightly damage the crop. In the West Indies, 1)
preemergence prometryne with post-emergence paraquat spray, 2) alachlor plus
linuron, and 3) terbutryne up to 9 weeks after application, have proven useful
in weed control (Duke, 1981a).
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Duke, J.A. 1981a. Handbook of legumes of world economic importance. Plenum
- Duke, J.A. 1981b. The gene revolution. Paper 1. p. 89150. In: Office of
Technology Assessment, Background papers for innovative biological technologies
for lesser developed countries. USGPO. Washington.
- Morton, J.F. 1976. The pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan Millsp.), a high
protein tropical bush legume. HortScience 11(1):1119.
- N.A.S. 1980a. Firewood crops. Shrub and tree species for energy production.
National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
Last update Tuesday, December 30, 1997