Wild Cowpea, hairypod cowpea, deer pea
Description: perennial vine
Place of origin: Africa, Asia, Australia, south central and eastern US, Mexico, Central and South America
Urban habitat: commonly found along streams and rivers, coastal areas, roadsides, disturbed sites; can grow in high saline and nutrient poor soils, drought and frost tolerant, thrives in full sun.
Ecological function: fast growing, short-lived pioneer species, has nitrogen-fixing properties which improves growth of nearby plants; food for wildlife especially for white-tailed deer.
History: The precise native range of Vigna luteola is obscure and it is currently found in temperate and tropical regions throughout the world. Parts of the plant were used by native Hawaiian’s for treatment of boils, ruptured skin, asthma, and given to infants as a strengthener. In Ethiopia and Malawi, its flowers are boiled and eaten as a vegetable. In Ethiopia its leaves and flowers are used to treat syphilis and ulcers and in Argentina, the plant is used to control cholesterol levels and is reported to have antimicrobial and antitumor properties. In parts of Africa, Argentina, Cuba, and Australia, the plant is used as a cover crop.