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Pigeon Peas

One of the sure signs that Christmas is around the corner is the flowering of the pigeon peas. Also known as gandules, they are called gungo or pigeon peas here in Jamaica and are the essential ingredient in the rice and peas dish most families prepare on special occasions and, in particular, on Christmas Day.

Pigeon Pea plant

Pigeon pea plant

The pigeon pea originated in eastern India and was brought to east and west Africa, and eventually to the Americas by African slaves probably around the 17th century. It has been cultivated for at least 3,500 years.

Small in size and light green or white in color, the pigeon pea takes on a light brown hue when it’s been dried. Besides its use in rice and peas, pigeon peas can also be used in soups.

Pigeon pea plant

Pigeon pea plant

Pigeon peas are rich in protein, fiber and essential amino acids.

What fascinates me about the pigeon pea is the plant. The leaves look velvety and the ‘flowers’ are so colorful, they look as if they could be cut and put in a vase. These ‘blooms’ will last about a week then will be replaced by pods that are long and have individual pockets that hold each pea. Each pod can hold up to 8 peas, and grow in bunches of 5 to 7.

The green pigeon peas can be frozen for later use. When cooked, they have a slightly different taste from the dried ones.

Have you tried pigeon peas?

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.


  1. Very beautiful flower 🙂 Thank you for info…
    Muza-chan recently posted..Japanese waterproof technique, Namako wallMy Profile

  2. We do use pigeon peas in our food! They do add that flavor to it. Lovely flowers, never seen them before!
    Have a fantastic day Marcia 🙂
    Arti recently posted..Tea Ceremony at the Jiko-in Zen Temple in Nara, JapanMy Profile

  3. They look too pretty to eat. It’s amazing, learning about natural elements we use for food. Hard to get natural in industrial places where everything is manufactured.
    totsymae1011 recently posted..Cover Design No. 1: Sock It to Me, BabyMy Profile

  4. Haven’t tried one yet, but it is now on my list to try!
    Jackie Smith recently posted..On a Mission South of Tucson. . .My Profile

  5. I’ve never heard of pigeon i’m going to have to check them out to see if there is an equivalent here!
    jenny recently posted..Rüstem Pasha: My Favourite Mosque in IstanbulMy Profile

  6. I’ve never tried them but I’ve seen them in lots of recipes. What a pretty plant.
    Leigh recently posted..One of the Prettiest Drives You’ll Ever Do in the USAMy Profile

  7. I had never heard of pigeon peas – hard to believe that such a beautiful plant produces food!

  8. How interesting! Never heard of this plant before.
    Dick Jordan recently posted..Travel Photo Thursday: Roof LinesMy Profile

  9. I have never heard of pigeon peas. What an interesting plant and I like how it has so many uses. Beautiful colors and do make for a festive decoration. Thanks for the info, Marcia!
    Mary recently posted..Copenhagen with Kids: 5 Free and Fun AttractionsMy Profile

  10. What a beautiful flower too… I love rice and peas. 🙂
    ElizOF recently posted..RIP Pandit Ravi Shankar: Legendary Sitar Maestro…My Profile

  11. These look so much like one of our native plants ( We call them “egg and bacon plants”. I can’t find any record of them being used as a source of food.
    Narelle recently posted..DrumBeatMy Profile

  12. I haven’t even heard of pigeon peas. Now you have me wanting to try some.
    Michele recently posted..Hanging out at the Hard Rock Hotel PenangMy Profile

  13. I’d never heard of them before reading your post, Marcia. Very interesting, then!
    Andrew Graeme Gould recently posted..Arica, Chile: people and placesMy Profile

  14. Never tried – or heard of – pigeon peas, but would like to. What an interesting glimpse into Christmas traditions in a warm climate country.
    Sophie recently posted..Almonds aren’t just almondsMy Profile

  15. High in protein and the flowers are pretty as well. I think I have grown these or a similar plant. Do they pop up all over the place?
    jan recently posted..Fantastic Friday – Camels and SnowboardsMy Profile

  16. Combination of yellow and the shade of red is very beautiful.
    Nature is wonderful.
    Leah recently posted..diamond ring under $1000My Profile

  17. I only heard about pigeon peas from gourmet chefs and fine dining restaurants in France, Italy, and New York. But I’ve also read somewhere that it’s a superb treat that’s jam-packed with antioxidants and fiber.

  18. Thanks for the informative post about pigeon peas; I never knew they existed. Great share.

  19. You’re welcome, Fatima. Glad I was able to share information about something new.
    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

  20. Yes, I just found that out myself when I did a little research for this post.
    It’s also very flavorful.
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Kristine.

  21. Glad you agree, Leah.
    Thanks for your comment.

  22. They seem to be everywhere here but I’m not sure if it’s because they were planted or if they were carried by the wind.

  23. It’s hard to describe the flavor but I think you’d like it. I prefer it to most other types of peas/beans.
    Was interesting to read about your Christmas traditions too.

  24. I guess they haven’t made it to Chile. In Spanish they’re gandules.
    Glad I was able to share something new with you, Andrew.

  25. Hope you get to try some, Michele. It’s really tasty.

  26. The flowers look similar but I doubt it’s the same. These are beautiful!

  27. Agreed, Elizabeth, it’s very beautiful and makes a tasty dish.

  28. You’re welcome, Mary!
    I was sure you’d have it in the Philippines.

  29. Glad I was able to introduce you to something new, Dick.

  30. So true! A lot of our foods produce surprisingly beautiful flowers.

  31. Hope you get a chance to try them, Leigh.

  32. Not sure if they’re known by the same name there, Jenny, but let me know if you find them.

  33. Would love to hear what you think, Jackie.

  34. Hahaha, yes very appealing to the eye and the stomach.
    It is definitely more difficult and I feel lucky to have this available.

  35. Thanks, Arti. Glad I was able to introduce you to the flowers.

  36. You’re welcome, Muza-chan!