Grey Speckled Palapye
Grey Speckled Palapye is a beautiful purple-tinted cowpea from a market in Palapye, Botswana that happens to produce well in cooler, wet climates like the far Northeast, Midwest, and the Northwest US. This bushy plant grows a couple feet tall and produces a nice amount of pods packed with seeds for fresh or dry eating.
In Botswana, cowpeas and beans are called dinawa. The Slow Food Ark of Taste lists Morogo wa Dinawa, or the dried, preserved leaves of cowpeas to be a culturally important and endangered food in Botswana. Also eaten fresh, the iron-rich cowpea leaves are blanched and squeezed into balls that are dried in the sun, and later reconstituted in water and cooked (like spinach) into porridge or stews.
West Africa is where this species is most widely grown, and is likely where this species was first domesticated. From there, it has traveled the world nourishing Africa, the African diaspora, and beyond.
Also known as: Gray Speckled Palapye
Days to maturity: 75-90
Seeds per pack: 55-60
Germination rate: 59% on 01/20/2023 (below standard)
Planting / harvesting notes
Direct sow southern peas safely after frost, any time between late May and mid-July. Full sun, plenty of room and airflow. Thin to 2-4" in row, but give at least 12" between rows. Wonderful picked fresh and still lovely once dried to where the seed rattles inside the pod (and much easier to shell!)
Seed keeping notes
Southern peas are self-pollinating, though it is best to isolate different varieties of V. unguiculata (including black-eyed peas, southern peas, cowpeas, and long beans) at least 20 feet, if not much farther to avoid unwanted cross-pollination. At our farm, we give them a few hundred feet of isolation between different varieties. Allow pods to dry fully into a brown crispy state. This is when they are ready to harvest for seed. If necessary, lay them out to dry a little longer in their pods.