The present research was carried out to identify and document the landrace diversity and ethnobotanical uses of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp) (Fabaceae) in Southwestern and Eastern Ethiopia. Data were collected through field observations, semi-structured interviews, guided field walk with cowpea farmers and users, and market surveys. Descriptive statistics, preference ranking and informant consensus were employed in the analysis. Forty-four cowpea accessions were collected from geographical locations ranging from 428- 2128 m.a.s.l. and 05° 17' 06.6” to 09°33' 58.5'' N and 34° 15' 54.5'' to 42° 26' 30.4'' E. The landraces had diverse seed sizes, colours, growth habits and germination potentials. Local variety ‘Rapo’ (Anywaa language) of V. unguiculata subsp. dekindtiana was found in Gambella Region; ‘Atera babile’ (Oromo language) of V. unguiculata subsp. cylindrica and subsp. unguiculata were found in all regions studied. Farmers grew cowpea for the purposes of human food, livestock Feed, improving soil fertility and medicine. The majority of farmers (63.33%) preferred the widely known ‘Atera babile’ which belongs to subsp. unguiculata because of its spreading nature, ability to produce more biomass than other varieties, effectiveness for improving soil fertility and ability to supersede weeds as a ground cover. Further research should focus on local landraces maintained by farmers and the crop wild relative is a worthwhile undertaking given its local importance and for future genetic improvement both as a food and feed crop.
Key words: Cowpea, ethnobotany, inter-cropping, landrace, sole cropping.
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