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Most pulse crops are annuals, but Pigeon Pea is a woody, short-lived (around 5 years) perennial (although it is sometimes grown as an annual). It may reach 1 to 4 m in height. . The flowers are yellow and the pods contain 3 to 4 seeds which may be white, grayish, red, brown, purplish, or speckled, with a white hilum (seed attachment point).
Young green seeds and pods are eaten as a vegetable in many countries and are canned in some parts of the West Indies. In South Asia, Pigeon Peas are an essential ingredient in sambar. The pulse contains around 20% protein, nearly 60% carbohydrate (mainly starch), and little fat. Pigeon Peas are also a good source of dietary minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, sulfur, and potassium, as well as water-soluble vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. The immature green seed has 7% protein, 20% carbohydrate, and nearly 70% water. Pigeon Pea can replace Soybean in the manufacture of tempeh and the seeds may be germinated and eaten as sprouts. The tops of plants with fruits make excellent fodder, hay, and silage.
(Vaughan and Geissler 1997; Hillocks et al. 2000; Odeny 2007 and references therein)