Family • Fabaceae - Cajanus cajan (Linn.) Millsp. - PIGEON PEA - Mu dou

Scientific names

Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.
Cystisus cajan Linn
Cystisus pseudo-cajan Jacq.
Cajan inodorum Medic.
Cajanus bicolor DC.
Cajanus indicus Spreng.
Cajanus cajan (L.) Huth

Common names

Gablos (Tag.)
Kadios (Mang., Tag., P. Bis.)
Kagyos (Tag.)
Kagyas (Tag.)
Kaldis (Ig., Ilk.)
Kalios (Tag.)
Kardis (Ibn., Ilk., Ig.)
Kidis (Ilk., Bon.)
Kusia (Ig., If.)
Tabios (Bik., C. Bis.)
Congo pea (Engl.)
Pigeon pea (Engl.)
Red gram (Engl.)
Mu dou (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

ARABIC: Bisillah hindîyah, Lûbyâ sûdânî, Shakul.
CHINESE: San ye dou, Niu dou, Dou rong, Shu tuo.
DANISH : Ærtebønne, Ærteboenne.
DUTCH : Struikerwt, Katjang goedé,
ESTONIAN : Harilik tuvihernes.
FINNISH : Kyyhkynherne.
FRENCH : Ambrevade, Pois d’Angola, Pois du Congo, Pois cajan.
GERMAN: Straucherbse, Strauchbohne, Taubenerbse.
HINDI: Arhar, Toor, Tuur, Tur, Tuvar, Tuver.
ITALIAN : Pisello d’Angola, Pisello del tropico, Caiano.
JAPANESE: Pijonpii, Ki-mame.
KHMER : Sândaèk dai, Sândaèk kroëb sâ, Sândaèk klöng.
LAOTIAN : Thwàx h’ê.
MALAY : Kacang kacang dal, Kacang hiris, Kacang kayu, Kacang gude.
PORTUGUESE : Feijão-guandu, Guandu (Brazil).
SPANISH : Cachito, Fríjol de árbol, Frijol de la India, Frijol guandul, Frijol quinchancho, Gandul.
SWEDISH : Duwärt.
THAI: Thua rae, Thua maetaai, Ma hae.
VIETNAMESE: Cay dau chieu, Dau thong.

Kadios is an erect, branched, hairy shrub, 2 to 4 meters high. Stems are angled and covered with fine hairs. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate to oblanceolate, trifoliate with two lateral leaflets and a central/terminal leaflet on a longer petiole. Flowers are yellow, occurring in sparse peduncled racemes, about 1.5 centimeters long. Pod is hairy, flattened, 4 to 7 centimeters long, about 1 centimeter wide, containing 2 to 7 seeds. Seeds are smooth, 4 to 8 millimeters in diameter, green when immature, turning white, yellow, red or black on maturity, entire or mottled.


– In settled areas throughout the Philippines, cultivated, semicultivated, and in some places, spontaneous, occurring from sea level to 2,400 meters.
– Probably prehistoric introduction from tropical Asia of Malaya.
– Now pantropic.

Pigeon Pea

– Phytochemical screening yielded carbohydrates, protein, amino acid, fats and oils, steroid, glycosides, anthraquinone glucoside, saponin glycoside, flavonoids, alkaloids, phenolic compounds.
– Pigeon pea is rich in starch, protein, calcium, manganese, crude fiber, fat, trace elements, and minerals.
– Seeds are rich in carbohydrates (58%) and proteins (19%).
– Studies yielded 2′-2’methylcajanone, 2′-hydroxygenistein, isoflavones, cajanin, cahanones, among many others.
– Leaves are rich in polyphenolic compounds, i.e., flavonoids like luteonin and apigenin, and also stilbenes, saponins, tannins, resins, and terpenoids.
– Roots yield genistein and genistin, hexadecanoic acid, α-amyrin, ß-sitosterol, pinostrobin, longistylin A, longistylin C and cajanol.

Pigeon peas grow on bushy shrubs that can thrive in arid climates. Photos.com

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) GUANDU / Cajanus cajan / RainTree

(2) Antiplasmodial constituents of Cajanus cajan / George Duker-Eshun et al / Phytotherapy Research
Volume 18 Issue 2, Pages 128 – 130 / DOI 10.1002/ptr.1375

(3) Hypocholesterolemic effect of stilbenes containing extract-fraction from Cajanus cajan L. on diet-induced hypercholesterolemia in mice / Q. Luo, L. Sun, J. Si, D. Chen / Phytomedicine, Volume 15, Issue 11, Pages 932-939 /

(4) Evaluation of traditional medicine: effects of Cajanus cajan L. and of Cassia fistula L. on carbohydrate metabolism in mice / Exposito Avella M et al / Rev Med Panama. 1991 Jan;16(1):39-45.

(5) Antimicrobial effect of leaf extracts of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan (L.) millsp.) on some human pathogens / Okigbo R N and Omodamiro O D / Journal of herbs, spices & medicinal plants, 2006, vol. 12, no1-2, pp. 117-127

(6) Study of glycemic profile of Cajanus cajan leaves in experimental rats / Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry / Volume 23, Number 2 / April, 2008 / DOI 10.1007/s12291-008-0037-z

(7) Cajanus cajan Linn. (Leguminosae) prevents alcohol-induced rat liver damage and augments cytoprotective function / Kundu R, Dasgupta S, Biswas A, Bhattacharya A, Pal BC, Bandyopadhyay D, Bhattacharya S, Bhattacharya S. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Aug 13;118(3):440-7. Epub 2008 May 15 /

(8) Clinical Evaluation of Extract of Cajanus cajan (Ciklavit®) in Sickle Cell Anaemia / A O Akinsulie, E O Temiye, A S Akanmu et al / Journal of Tropical Pediatrics Volume51, Issue4Pp. 200-205

(9) Sorting Cajanus names / Authorised by Prof. Snow Barlow / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1997 – 2000 The University of Melbourne.

(10) Cajanol, a novel anticancer agent from Pigeonpea [Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.] roots, induces apoptosis in human breast cancer cells through a ROS-mediated mitochondrial pathway. / Luo M, Liu X, Zu Y, Fu Y, Zhang S, Yao L, Efferth T. / Chem Biol Interact. 2010 Oct 6;188(1):151-60./ doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2010.07.009. Epub 2010 Jul 16.

(11) Biological activities and medicinal properties of Cajanus cajan (L) Millsp. / Dilipkumar Pal, Pragya Mishra, Neetu Sachan, and Ashoke K. Ghosh / J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2011 Oct-Dec; 2(4): 207–214. / doi: 10.4103/2231-4040.90874

(12) Cajachalcone: An Antimalarial Compound from Cajanus cajan Leaf Extract / E. O. Ajaiyeoba, O. O. Ogbole, O. O. Abiodun, J. S. Ashidi, P. J. Houghton,4 and C. W. Wright / Journal of Parasitology Research
Volume 2013 (2013) / http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/703781

IGHODARO, O. M. and OMOLE, J. O. / Animal Research International (2010) 7(3): 1304 – 1308 1304

(14) Effects of aqueous leaf extract of Cajanus cajan on litter size and serum progesterone in pregnant rats /
Luqman Aribidesi Olayaki*, Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, Ayodele Olufemi Soladoye, Olusegun Rabiu Jimoh, Olaide Ghazal and Martins Ighodalo / Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytotherapy Vol. 1 (2) pp. 021-024, August, 2009

(15) Anti-Oxidative Protection against Iron Overload-Induced Liver Damage in Mice by Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp. Leaf Extract / Rhitajit Sarkar, Bibhabasu Hazra & Nripendranath Mandal / Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol 51, Feb 2013, pp 165-173.

(16) Preliminary Phytochemical Screening of Cajanus cajan Linn. / P.K. Mohanty*, Neha Chourasia, Neraj Kumar Bhatt and Y.A. Jaliwala / Asian J. Pharm. Tech. 2011; Vol. 1: Issue 2, Pg 49-52

(17) Comparative study of antidiabetic activity of Cajanus cajan and Tamarindus indica in alloxan-induced diabetic mice with a reference to in vitro antioxidant activity / Laizuman Nahar, Fatema Nasrin, Ronok Zahan, Anamul Haque, Ekramul Haque, Ashik Mosaddik / Pharmacognosy Research, 2014, Vol 6, Issue 2, pp 180-187.

(18) Quality nutrition through pigeonpea—a review / Kul Bhushan Saxena, Ravikoti Vijaya Kumar, Rafat Sultana / DOI: 10.4236/health.2010.211199 3,990

(19) Anti-Fertility Activity of Methanol Extract of Bassia latifolia and Cajanus cajan in Female Albino Mice Ovaries /S. BANDYOPADHYAY / IJPT, July2010, vol.9, no.2, 83-87

(20) Anti-Ulcer and Anti-Inflammatory Activity of Cajanus cajan Linn. / Jaliwal Y A, Mohanti P K, Jain Neetesh Kumar / International Research Journal of Pharmacy, 2014, 5(4).

(21) Antihyperglycemic Activity and Brine Shrimp Lethality Studies on Methanol Extract of Cajanus Cajan (L.) Millsp. Leaves and Roots / Md. Mazharul Anwar, Marjina Akhter Kalpana, Bithika Bhadra, Shahnaz Rahman, Sanjoy Sarker, Majeedul H. Chowdhury, Mohammed Rahmatullah / Advances in Natural and Applied Sciences, 4(3): 311-316, 2010

– Roots are considered antihelmintic, expectorant, febrifuge, sedative, vulnerary.

Parts used
Leaves, roots.

Edibility / Nutrition
– Used mainly for its edible young pods and seeds.
– Vegetable food crop ( seeds and pods) in South-East Asia.
– Fair source of calcium and iron; good source of vitamin B.

– Decoction or infusion of leaves for coughs, diarrhea, abdominal pains.
– Tender leaves are chewed for aphthous stomatitis and spongy gums.
– Pulped or poulticed leaves used for sores.
– Leaves used in the treatment of measles.
– Roots chewed for toothache; leaves used to clean teeth.
– In Peru, leaves are used as an infusion for anemia, hepatitis, diabetes, urinary infections and yellow fever.
– In Argentina, leaves used for genital and skin problems; flowers used for bronchitis, cough and pneumonia.
– In China, as vermifuge, vulnerary; for tumors.
– In Panama, used for treatment of diabetes and jaundice.
– In Bangladesh, used for treatment of diabetes.
– In Indian folk medicine, used for a variety of liver disorders.
– Used in the treatment of jaundice, bronchitis and cough; used as anthelmintic and in child delivery.

– As forage or hay.
– Branches and stems for basket and fuel.

Study Findings
• RBC Sickling Inhibition / Sickle Cell Anemia : Clinical studies have reported seed extracts to inhibit red blood cell sickling and potential benefit for people with sickle cell anemia.
• Sickle Cell Anemia: In a single blind placebo controlled study, results showed CC extract may cause a reduction of painful sickle cell crises and ameliorate the adverse effects of sickle cell anemia on the liver.
• Sickle Cell Anemia / Phenylalanine: Paper reports that both extract of C. cajan and the amino acid phenylalanine of which it is rich, are good biochemical reducing agents and oxidative free radical scavengers, and can be employed in the treatment not only of sickle cell disease, but other conditions involving oxidative stress.
• Antiplasmodial constituents of Cajanus cajan: Study isolated two stilbenes, longistylin A and C and betulinic acid from the roots and leaves of CC and showed moderately high in vitro activity against Plasmodium falcifarum strain.
• Stilbenes / Neuroprotective / Alzheimer’s Disease: Study of stilbenes containing extract-fraction from C cajan showed significant amelioration of cognitive deficits and neuron apoptosis. Findings suggest SECC has a potential in the development of therapeutic agent to manage cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer’s disease through increase choline acetyltransferase activity and anti-oxidative mechanism.
• Hypocholesterolemic Effect: Study on the stilbenes containing extract-fraction of CC showed a hypocholesterolemic effect possibly through enhancement of hepatic LDL-receptor and cholesterol 7-alpha-hydroxylase expression levels and bile acid synthesis.
• Hyperglycemic Effect: Evaluation of traditional medicine: effects of Cajanus cajan L. and of Cassia fistula L. on carbohydrate metabolism in mice: Contradicting its traditional use for diabetes, CC did not have a hypoglycemic effect on sugar, instead at higher doses, it produced a hyperglycemic effect.
• Antimicrobial: Study shows the organic solvent extracts to inhibit E coli, S aureus and S typhi and the aqueous extract were inhibitory to E coli and S aureus.
• Antimicrobial / Antifungal: Nigerian study on the antimicrobial effects of the ethanol and aqueous extracts of locally available plants, including C cajan, showed inhibition against S aureus, P aeruginosa, E coli and C albicans. The extracts of C cajan produced wider zones of inhibition against C albicans.
• Hyperglycemic Effect / Leaves: Study of the aqueous extract of C cajan leaves showed a hyperglycemic effect, suggesting a usefulness in controlling hypoglycemia that may be due to excess of insulin or other hypoglycemic drugs.
• Hepatoprotective / Alcohol-Induced Liver Damage: Study of the methanol-aqueous fraction of C cajan leaf extract showed it could prevent the chronically treated alcohol induced rat liver damage and presents a promise as a non-toxic herb for therapeutic use in alcohol-induced liver dysfunction.
• Hepatoprotective / Carbon-Tetrachloride Hepatotoxicity: Study in mice with carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage showed the methanol extracts of B orellana, C cajan, G pentaphylla and C equisetifolia showed significant decrease in levels of serum markers, indicating the protection of hepatic cells in a dose-dependent manner.
• Antioxidant / Hypolipidemic: Study of methanolic extract of CC in alloxan-induced hyperglycemic rats showed a significant reduction in blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol, and creatinine concentrations. Antioxidant activity was confirmed with in vitro studies.
• Anticancer / Cajanol / In vitro Cytotoxicity: Cajanol, an isoflavanone from the roots of C. cajan was investigated for anticancer activity towards MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. Results showed inhibition of growth of MCF-7 cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner and induction of apoptosis via a ROS-mediated mitochondria-dependent pathway.
• Cajachalcone / Leaves / Antimalarial Potential: A bioassay-guided fractionation of a crude methanolic extract of leaves yielded Cajachalcone, 2′,6′-dihydroxy-4-methoxy chalcone, as the biologically active constituent from the ethyl acetate fraction. Chalcones and derivatives are small bioactive synthesized molecules with a high potential as leads for discovery and development of antimalarial agents.
• Toxicity Study / Dose Related Hepatotoxic Potential: Study evaluated the effect of oral aqueous leaf extract on electrolyte concentration and ALT, AST, and ALP activities in normal rats. Results showed the aqueous leaf extract has a hepatotoxic potential when consumed at a daily dose of 0.5 g/kg BW or more for 14 days, and suggests lower dosages for local use of the plant extract.
• Effect on Litter Size and Serum Progesterone in Pregnant Rats: Study showed oral administration of aqueous leaf extract increases litter size and plasma progesterone in pregnant rats.
• Anti-Drepanocytosic Activity: Study evaluated four plants, including Cajanus cajan, for anti-depranocytosic activity. C. cajan showed the presence of fatty acids, one of which was characterized as an unsaturated fatty acid. Crude hexane and methanol extracts of Cajanus cajan showed in vitro anti-sickling activity.
• Anti-Oxidative Protection Against Iron Overload Induced Liver Damage / Leaves: Study investigated a methanol extract of C. cajan leaf for antioxidative protection against iron-overload induced liver damage in mice. The plant extract reversed the serum enzymes to approach normal value, and counteracted the overwhelmed serum ferritin level. In vitro studies suggested potential antioxidant activity. Histopath studies substantiated the ameliorative effects of the plant extract.
• Anti-Drepanocytosic Activity: Study compared the protective antioxidant activity, total phenol content and antihyperglycemic activity of a methanolic extracts of Cajanus cajan root and Tamarindus indica seeds. Both plants showed high antioxidant capacity. Reduction efficacy of blood glucose was proportional to their dose, but the methanol extract of C. cajan showed more potent reduction of blood glucose.
• Anti-Fertility Activity / Seed: Study of methanol extract of Bassia latifolia bud and Cajanus cajan seed produced anti-fertility activity on mature female mice. The contraceptive action of both plant extracts is not permanent and the ovarian activities return a few days after withdrawal of the extract.
• Anti-Ulcer / Anti-Inflammatory / Leaves: Study evaluated various extracts of leaves for possible anti-gastric ulcer properties and anti-inflammatory activity in mice. Results showed anti-ulcer activity in three acute models: HCl/ethanol induce ulcer, immersion-restraint stress, and drug-induced ulcer. Study also showed significant anti-inflammatory effect in cotton pellet granuloma and carrageenan induced paw edema models.
• Antihyperglycemic / Cytotoxicity: Study evaluated the antihyperglycemic and cytotoxic potential of methanolic extracts of leaves and roots of C. cajan in mice. Results showed dose dependent and significant reductions of glucose levels. On brine shrimp lethality bioassay, both leave and root extracts showed high degree of cytotoxicity suggesting a promising source of anticancer compounds.

Cultivated, semicultivated, or wildcrafted.