The Imperiled Pea

The Mississippi silver hull, also known as a crowder, is considered an endangered variety of the cowpea or field pea (Vigna unguiculata), most commonly called black-eyes.

The silver hull grows well in hot, humid environments and thrives in the lower South. Pods average six inches in length and are silvery-green, occasionally streaked with rose. The seeds are black or brown-eyed, and somewhat blocky in shape, having slightly angular sides so that they “crowd” one another in the pod. A climbing bush variety, crowders can reach four feet in height and are resistant to fusarium wilt and root knot nematodes. Easy to shell, silver hulls have the taste and texture of all field peas, but their thinner skin gives them a cleaner flavor than their earthy counterparts.

Production of cowpeas of all varieties has declined in the United States from 750,000 acres to just a few thousand over the past 25 years, with most of it intended for livestock.

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