Forest Friday is looking at the Pigeon Pea – Cajanus cajan.

“Knowledge is great, understanding is better”

This is a chance for us to explore the different trees we use in our permaculture designs. There is so much to understand about a tree before placing it in a system, and by giving a tree what it needs to thrive, the whole system can benefit from the many design and ecologic functions they provide.
Savour Soil uses the Pigeon Pea – Cajanus cajanin many designs, as a living hedge, IPM (integrated pest management) and privacy screen, fertility tree ad fodder but there is so much more to this tree.


  • Cultivated in all tropical and semitropical regions, though can tolerate dryer climates.
  • Perennial, in which the crop can last three to five years
  • It responds well to coppicing as it is fast growing.
  • Wind tolerant and drought hardy
  • It is easily propagated by seeds all year.
  • Light green foliage
Needs, Tolerances + Susceptibilities:
  • Pigeon Pea is very drought-resistant
  • Established plants rarely need watering, except in extremely long dry periods.
  • It can be burned by a light frost.
  • Will tolerate most soils provided they drain well.
  • Tolerates rainfall less than 650 mm annual rainfall
  • Young plants require watering as they establish.
Charactoristics + Behaviours:
  • Pigeon pea is a evergreen shrub.
  • Growing 2-4m tall with a similar spread.
  • Small yellow flowers in spring to autumn.
  • Self-mulching.
  • It has lance/olate to elliptical light green shape leaves which can help to capture and retain some heat helping to create cooler conditions.
  • A shallow root system makes it easy to remove if necessary
  • sprinkle of good compost around the base of the plant annually in spring.
Design Function:
  • Has a dense foliage to help support habitat for small birds.
  • Due to its height and spread it creates a fantastic low level wind break + shelterbelt.
  • Can be used to help create microclimates
  • Can be planted around trees to help provide fertility
  • Small animals can use it for shade.
  • Can be used as a living fence or windbreak that hedges easily.
  • Provides erosion control and builds soil.
  • Can be used as a cover crop
  • Makes a great living trellis
  • Most eaten legume in the world – pulses
  • Is a fantastic Insectary/nectary plant, great fodder for animals
  • Self-replicating mulch
  • Edible legumes
  • Grows quickly and provides lots of organic material.
  • Structure and flowers provide food and home for insects and birds
  • Fodder for animals.
Ecological Function:
  • Pigeon pea grows quickly helping to create microclimates
  • Pigeon pea builds organic matter which helps nourishes soil.
  • Using Pigeon pea as a companion helps build soil fertility.
  • Habitat for small birds which frequent the garden.
  • Fodder for insects and other animals

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