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Family Fabaceae / Leguminosae
Vigna unguiculata (Linn.) Walp.


Scientific names   Common names  
Dolichos biflorus L. Paayap (Tag.)
Dolichos catjang Burm.f. Sitaw-turo (Tag.)
Dolichos catjang L. Cowpea (Engl.)
Dolichos hastifolius Schnizl. Blackeyed pea (Engl.)
Dolichos lubia Forssk. Field pea (Engl.)
Dolichos melanophthalmus DC. Yard-long bean (Engl.)
Dolichos monachalis Brot.  
Dolichos obliquifolius Schnizl.  
Dolichos sinensis L.  
Dolichos sphaerospermus (L.) DC.  
Dolichos tranquebaricus Jacq.  
Dolichos unguiculata (L.)  
Dolichos unguiculatus (L.)  
Liebrechtsia scabra De Wild.  
Phaseolus unguiculatus (L.) Piper  
Vigna brachycalyx Baker f.  
Vigna catjang (Burm.f.) Walp.  
Vigna catjang Savi  
Vigna scabra (De Wild.) T.Durand & H.Durand  
Vigna scabrida Burtt Davy  
Vigna sinensis (L.) Savi ex Hausskn.  
Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.  
Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. is an accepted name The Plant List

Other vernacular names
GERMAN: Augenbohne, Kuhbohne.
INDIA: Ulavalu.
MALAGASY: Lozy, Mahalaindolo, Voahimba, Voanemba, Voatsirokonangatra.
PORTUGUESE: Feijão de Corda (Brazil).
RUSSIAN: Vigna konoplevidnaia.
SINHALESE: Li me, Me karal, Mil me, Wanduru me.
SPANISH: Caupí, Cumandá, Chiclayo (Peru), Frijol, Frijol camba, Frijol castilla (Peru), Frijol de costa, Frijol de vaca, Frijol de vara, Tumbe (Ecuador).

Paayap is an leguminous herbaceous annual with twining stems. Upright stems are hollow and hairless, about 1 centimeter wide. Leaves are trifoliate, 2.5 to 12.5 centimeters long. Two lateral leaves are asymmetrical. Central leaflet is hastate, symmetrical, smooth, with the lateral surfaces irregular. Flowers are in axillary racemes on stalks 15 to 30 centimeters long. Pods are pendulous, smooth, 10 to 22 centimeters long with a thick decurved beak and 10- to 15-seeded. Seeds are 4 to 8 millimeters long, 3 to 4 millimeters wide, variable in size and color.

- Cultivated.
- Native to East Asia.

• Study on chemical constituents isolated one new saponin, vignalin, the aglycone part of which belongs to the oleanane series of triterpenoids identified as soyasapogenol B. Besides saponin, cycloartenol, stigmasterol and oleanolic acid acetate and sitosterol ß-D-glycoside were isolated for the first time.
• Study of dried edible seeds of V. unguiculata were: moisture, 6.20-8.92%; protein, 20.5-31.7%; fat 1.14-3.03%; fiver 1.70-4.5%; carbohydrate 56-65.7%, with varying amounts of cyanide, tannin, total oxalate and phytate.

• Nutrient composition of leaves on a dry weight basis ranged from 9.4 to 13.0% moisture, 303.8 to 468.9 mg/100 g phosphorus, 33.5 to 148.o mg/100 g ascorbic acid, and 27.1 to 34.7% protein. (20)
• Phytochemical screening of seeds yielded glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, saponin glycosides, and sterols. (see study below) (23)

• Study suggest antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-sickling, cardioprotective, thrombolytic, antidiabetic, hypolipidemic properties.

Parts utilized
Roots, leaves, seeds.

Edibility / Culinary / Nutrition
- Young leaves, pods and pea are edible.
Consumed as vegetable
- Gabi-Paayap Instant Baby Food: A nutritious baby food from a blend of gabi powder, roasted paayap grits processed by extrusion cooking, with a 100-gram pack providing 394 kcal and 19.4 g protein. source
- Kamote-Paayap Weaning / Baby Food: A rootcrop-legume combo of dried kamote cubes and paayap girts containing 376 kcal and 12.5 g of protein per 100 g.
- Rice-Paayap Sesame Powder: A blend of 3/4 cup of roasted rice flour and two tablespoons each of roasted paayap flour and roasted sesame flour, provides 424 Kcal and 14 grams protein per 100 grams. source
- In Nigeria, roots are eaten and scorched seeds are occasionally used as coffee substitute. Nigeria is reputed to be the highest producer of cowpea in the world. (11)
- No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
- In Africa, the seeds of V. unguiculata are cook with T. sericea as a soup against schistosomiasis.
In other folkloric medicinal systems, various parts of the cowpea plants (roots, leaves, and seeds) are used for a variety of medical ailments including dysmenorrhea, epilepsy, headaches, constipation, chest pains and bilharzia.
- In Nigerian folk medicine used to inhibit sickling and management of sickle cell disease and other manifestations.
- In India, seed decoction taken orally for kidney stones. (
- Forage: Can be used as forage, hay, and silage. As silage, mixed with sorghum, maize, or molasses.

Report on Flatulence and Abdominal Discomfort on Ingestion: 1989 report on abdominal discomfort associated with ingestion of cowpea and the decreased incidence of side effects with pressure cooking and dehulling.
Antifungal / Antiviral: Study presents evidence of multiple proteins with antifungal and antiviral potency in cowpea seeds. The two proteins, designated alpha-antifungal and beta-antifungal, were capable of inhibiting HIV reverse transcriptase and one glycohydrolases associated with HIV infection. The proteins also retarded the mycelial growth of a variety of fungi, with the alpha-protein more potent in most cases.
Protein Source/ Anti-Nutrient Factors : Study suggests cowpea as a valuable protein source with the predicted protein deficit in Southern Africa. Unlike other legumes, VU contain anti-nutritional factors (ANF) as trypsin inhibitors, tannins and phytates.
Anti-Inflammatory: Study on the anti – inflammatory activity of Vigna unguiculata seed extract..
Anti-Bleeding: Rats on boiled white rice diet developed symptoms of severe vitamin K deficiency and the addition of autoclaved beans of V. unguiculata in the diet prevented the bleeding syndrome.
Antifungal / Antibacterial: Results have indicated antifungal and some antibacterial activity by cowpea leaf extracts.
Lipids / Constituents: Dried edible seeds of V unguiculata and P vulgaris grown in Northern Nigeria were studied for its chemical constituents. Iodine values were higher in vigna. Overall, potassium was the most abundant element in the seeds.16 amino acids were identified. Study highlights the safety and high nutritive values of the studied varieties.
Seed Oil Constituents: Study of seed oil constituents from 4 cultivars showed the oil content range from 2.71-2.96% with triglycerides the highest amount. Among sterols, stigmasterol was highest, followed by ß-sitosterol and campesterol. Among tocopherols, α-tocopherol was highest, and ß-tocopherol the lowest.(12)
Antioxidant / Antimicrobial: Callus culture of V. unguiculata showed to be a potential source of flavonoids and phenolics, and an antimicrobial agent. (13)
Antisickling Potential / Seeds: Study evaluated the anti-sickling potential of ethanol seed extracts of Vigna unguiculata and V. subterranean. Results showed both extracts showed antisickling effect suggesting potential benefit in the management of sickle cell disease. (14)
Cardioprotective / Leaves: Study evaluated the cardioprotective effect of VU in cholesterol fed rabbits. Results showed a cardioprotective nature in preventing cardioprotective diseases. The effect was attributed to the presence of antioxidants and antihyperlipidemic properties of the flavonoid fraction of leaves. (15)
Antidiabetic / Lipid Benefits / Seed Oil: Study evaluated the antidiabetic effects of Vigna unguiculata seed oil in alloxan induced diabetic rats. Results showed decrease in blood glucose, total cholesterol, TG, LDL, ALT, AST and increase in HDL. (1
Antibacterial / Seeds: Study evaluated ethanol and aqueous extracts of seeds for antibacterial activity against gram positive bacteria (B. subtilis) and gram negative bacteria (E. coli). While both extracts showed concentration dependent activity against the microorganisms tested, the aqueous extract exhibited greater antibacterial activity. (1
Thrombolytic / Seeds: In vitro study of methanolic extract of Vigna unguiculata seeds showed significant thrombolytic activity compared with standard streptokinase. The clot lysis activity may be due to the tannin and alkaloid content. (1
Peptides / Influence on Insulin Resistance: Study showed cowpea peptides can induce Akt phosphorylation in cell culture. Administering cowpea peptides can probably mimic the action of insulin by activation of the insulin signaling cascade. (
Anthelmintic / Seeds: Study evaluated powdered extracts of seeds of Vigna unguiculata for anthelmintic activity against Eudrilus euginiae earthworms. Results showed paralysis and death of worms in a concentration dependent manner. The alcoholic extract showed more significant activity than the aqueous extract. (see constituents above) (
Decreased Cardiac Oxidative Stress: Study showed Vigna unguiculata has potential as alternative therapy in decreasing cardiac oxidative stress in ovariectomized rats. Furthermore, high doses can increase aorta estrogen receptor-ß expression in ovariectomized rats. (
Endothelial Cell Benefits / Antiatherosclerosis: Study in ovariectomized rats showed Vigna unguiculata has alternative potential for increasing endothelial cell number, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) expression and can also act as an anti-atherosclerotic agent by normalizing serum lipid profiles. (

- Wild-crafted. 
- Cultivated.

Last Updated August 2016

Photos © Godofredo Stuart / StuartXchange
OTHER IMAGE SOURCE:: Seed / Vigna sinensis (L.) Savi ex Hassk. - VISI5 / Tracey Slotta @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings
Studies on the Chemical Constituents of the Seeds of Vigna unguiculata (Linn.) / Thesis / Mushtaq Noorwala
Flatulence and other discomforts associated with consumption of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata)./ Ndubuaku V O; Uwaegbute A C; Nnanyelugo D O / Appetite 1989;13(3):171-81.
Structurally dissimilar proteins with antiviral and antifungal potency from cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) seeds./ Ye XY, Wang HX, Ng TB. / Life Sci. 2000 Nov 17;67(26):3199-207 /
A new monodesmosidic triterpenoid saponin from the seeds of Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata / Noorwala, M : Mohammad, F V : Ahmad, V U / J-Nat-Prod. 1995 Jul; 58(7): 1070-4
African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs: poisons and drugs : chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology / By Hans Dieter Neuwinger
Lipids and other constituents of Vigna unguiculata and Phaseolus vulgaris grown in northern Nigeria / V A Onwuliri and J A Obu / Food Chemistry Volume 78, Issue 1, July 2002, Pages 1-7 / doi:10.1016/S0308-8146(00)00293-4
Effects of cowpea (Vigna Unguiculata) feeding on the pancreatic exocrine secretion of pigs / Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition / Volume 82 Issue 2-3, Pages 57 - 65
Anti – inflammatory activity of Vigna unguiculata seed extract / CN Ezekwesili, KA Obiora et al / Journal of Medical Laboratory Sciences 9:141 – 145
Medicinal plants of the world: chemical constituents, traditional and modern / Ivan A. Ross
Antimicrobial activity of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) leaf extracts./ Kritzinger, Q., Lall, N. and Aveling, T.A.S. / South African Journal of Botany 71(1): 45-48.
Comparative Germination Studies of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata Linn. Walp) and Soy bean (Glycine max Linn. Merr) on Whole and Water Saturated Fractions of Hydrocarbon (Hexane) / *Ogbemudia, F. O., Denise, E. M., Ogie-Odia E.A. and Omonhinmin, A. C. / Annals of Biological Research, 2010, 1 (4) : 34-40
Evaluation of Phytochemicals, antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of in vitro culture of Vigna unguiculata L. Walp. / Sharad Vats, Radhika Tiwari, Afroz Alam, Kambaska K. Behera, and Ruchi Pareek /
Researcher 2012; 4(11)
Antisickling potential of the ethanol seed extracts of Vigna unguiculata and Vigna subterranean / Egba I. Simeone, Emmanuel N. Tufon*, Ogugua N. Victor and Ndohnui N. Noel / International Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology ISSN: 2169-3048 Vol. 1 (9), pp. 226-229, December, 2012.
Vigna unguiculata modulates cholesterol induced cardiac markers, genotoxicity and gene expressions profile in an experimental rabbit model / P. A. Janeesh and Annie Abraham* / Food & Function Issue 4, 2013
Sorting Vigna names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The University of Melbourne. Australia.
EVALUATION OF ANTIBACTERIAL ACTIVITY OF SEED EXTRACTS OF VIGNA UNGUICULATA / DOPPALAPUDI SANDEEP / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol 6, Issue 1, 2014
In vitro thrombolytic potentials of methanolic extract of Vigna unguiculata Linn (seed) / Md. Saddam Hussain, Mohammad Salim Hossain, Mohammad Tohidul Amin and Md. Shalahuddin Millat / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2016; 5(3): 129-131
Selected nutritional components and sensory attributes of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata [L.] Walp) leaves.
/ Ahenkora K, Adu Dapaah HK, Agyemang A. / Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 1998;52(3):221-9.
Influence of Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) Peptides on Insulin Resistance / Barnes MJ, Uruakpa FO* and Udenigwe CC / J Nutrition Health Food Sci 3(2): 1-3. / DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15226/jnhfs.2015.00144
Bioscience Discovery, 4(2):250-253, July 2013 ISSN: 2229-3469 (Print) Herbal formulations used in treatment of kidney stone by native folklore of Nizamabad District, Andhra Pradesh, India / Vijigiri Dinesh, Shivraj Kashinath Bembrekar and P P Sharma / Bioscience Discovery, 4(2):250-253, July 2013
Phytochemical Properties and Anthelmintic Activity of Vigna unguiculata Linn.
/ Maisale AB, Patil MB, Jalalpure SS, Patil AM, and Attimarad SL / Journal of Pharmaceutical and Scientific Innovation, 1(2): Mar-Apr 2012, pp 51-52
The effects of Vigna unguiculata on cardiac oxidative stress and aorta estrogen receptor-β expression of ovariectomized rats / Etik Khusniyati, Alfie Ardiana Sari, Yuyun Yueniwati, Noorhamdani Noorhamdani, Tatit Nurseta, Kusnarman Keman / Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction, Vol 3, Issue 4, Dec 2014, Pp 263-267
The effects of Vigna unguiculata on aortic endothelial cells, endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression, lipid profile, and atherosclerosis in ovariectomized rats / Imroatul Azizah, Tria Wahyuningrum, Kusnarman Keman, Sanarto Santoso, Dwi Yuni Nur Hidayati / J Exp Integr Med. 2014; 4(3): 207-211 / doi: 10.5455/jeim.060514.or.103

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