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(Cajanus indicus), a perennial plant of the legume family, subfamily Papilionaceae. It grows as a bush 0.5–3.5 m high with a coarse uneven ribbed stem. The ternate leaves are elongated and lanceolate with thick fuzz toward the base. The blossoms are large and grow five to nine on each peduncle. The beans are short and flat. The seeds measure 0.5–0.8 mm in diameter.
Pigeon peas have been cultivated for more than 2,500 years. Crops are grown in Southeast and Southwest Asia, in tropical Africa, in Central and South America, and in northern Australia. The young beans are used as food; in nutritional value and taste they resemble green peas. The mature seeds are used to feed stock and fowl. In some countries they are fed to scale insects, producing raw material for making shellac (resin). They are also planted in large numbers as green fertilizer and on slopes to fight erosion. There are test plantings of pigeon peas in the USSR in the southern regions of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and also in Middle Asia.
N. P. IVANOV