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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Lablab
Species: L. purpureus
Binomial name
Lablab purpureus
(L.) Sweet

Dolichos lablab L.
Dolichos purpureus L.
Lablab niger Medikus
Lablab lablab (L.) Lyons
Lablab vulgaris (L.) Savi
Vigna aristata Piper

Hyacinth-beans, immature seeds, prepared
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 209 kJ (50 kcal)
9.2 g
0.27 g
2.95 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.056 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.088 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.48 mg
Folate (B9)
47 μg
Vitamin C
5.1 mg
Trace metals
41 mg
0.76 mg
42 mg
0.21 mg
49 mg
262 mg
0.38 mg

Link to USDA Database entry
Cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Lablab purpureus is a species of bean in the family Fabaceae. It is native to Africa and it is cultivated throughout the tropics for food.[2] English language common names include hyacinth bean, dolichos bean, seim bean, lablab bean, Egyptian kidney bean, Indian bean, chicharo and Australian pea.[3] It is the only species in the monotypic genus Lablab.[2][4]


The plant is variable due to extensive breeding in cultivation, but in general, they are annual or short-lived perennial vines. The wild species is perennial. The thick stems can reach six meters in length. The leaves are made up of three pointed leaflets each up to 15 centimeters long. They may be hairy on the undersides. The inflorescence is made up of racemes of many flowers. Some cultivars have white flowers, and others may have purplish or blue.[2] The fruit is a legume pod variable in shape, size, and color. It is usually several centimeters long and bright purple to pale green.[5] It contains up to four seeds. The seeds are white, brown, red, or black depending on the cultivar, sometimes with a white hilum. Wild plants have mottled seeds. The seed is about a centimeter long.[2]


The hyacinth bean is often grown as forage for livestock[6] and as an ornamental plant.[7] In addition, it is cited both as a medicinal plant and a poisonous plant.[8][9]

The fruit and beans are edible if boiled well with several changes of the water.[9] Otherwise, they are toxic due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides, glycosides that are converted to hydrogen cyanide when consumed. Signs of poisoning include weakness, vomiting, dyspnea, twitching, stupor, and convulsions.[9]

The leaves are eaten raw or cooked like spinach. The flowers can be eaten raw or steamed. The root can be boiled or baked for food. The seeds are used to make tofu and tempeh.[5]

In Maharashtra, a special spicy curry, known as vaala che birde (वालाचे बीरडे), is often used during fasting festivals during Shravan month.[citation needed] In Karnataka, the hyacinth bean is made into curry (avarekalu saaru)(Kannada: ಅವರೆಕಾಳು ಸಾರು), salad (avarekaalu usli), added to upma (avrekaalu uppittu), and as a flavoring to Akki rotti. Sometimes the outer peel of the seed is taken out and the inner soft part is used for a variety of dishes. This form is called hitakubele avarekalu, which means "pressed (hitaku) hyancinth bean, and a curry is made out of this deskinned beans known as 'Hitikida Avarekaalu Saaru"[citation needed] In Telangana, the bean pods are cut into small pieces and cooked as spicy curry in Pongal festival season, along with bajra bread; it has been a very special delicacy for centuries.[citation needed]

In Huế, Vietnam, hyacinth beans are the main ingredient of the dish chè đậu ván.[citation needed]

In Kenya, the bean is popular among the Kikuyu people. It is thought to encourage lactation and has historically been the main dish for breastfeeding mothers.[citation needed] Beans are boiled and mashed with ripe and/or semiripe bananas, giving the dish a sweet taste.

Common names[edit]

Other common names include Tonga bean, papaya bean, poor man bean (Australia), fiwi bean, Kikuyu bean, lubia bean (Africa), Kalingonda (Malawi),Bounavista pea (Trinidad), and butter bean (Caribbean). It is known as gallinita (Mexico), ataque (France), fuji-mame (Japan), gerenge (Ethiopia), helmbohne (Germany), gueshrangaig (Egypt), louria (Cyprus), and bataw (Philippines).[3] In India it is called chapparadavare, chikkadikai (Kannada), ଶିମ୍ୱ [Simbo] (Oriya), mochakotai, mochai (Tamil), anumulu, chikkudu (Telugu), Puliavara (Malayalam), sem, ballar (Hindi), val (Gujarati),[3] ถั่วแปบ (Thai)[10]



  1. ^ Lablab purpureus at Multilingual taxonomic information from the University of Melbourne
  2. ^ a b c d Lablab purpureus. Tropical Forages.
  3. ^ a b c Lablab purpureus L. (Sweet). University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India.
  4. ^ Lablab purpureus, general information. University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, India.
  5. ^ a b Dolichos lablab. Floridata.
  6. ^ Lablab purpureus. Grassland Species Profiles. Food and Agriculture Organization.
  7. ^ Lablab purpureus. Missouri Botanical Garden.
  8. ^ Lablab purpureus.[dead link] Plants for a Future.
  9. ^ a b c Dolichos lablab (Lablab purpureus). Poisonous Plants of North Carolina. North Carolina State University.
  10. ^ The 25 Health Benefits of Lablab greenerald health, Thailand

Further reading[edit]

  • Trinick, M. J. (1980). "Relationships Amongst the Fast-growing Rhizobia of Lablab purpureus, Leucaena leucocephala, Mimosa spp., Acacia farnesiana and Sesbania grandiflora and their Affinities with Other Rhizobial Groups". Journal of Applied Bacteriology 49 (1): 39–53. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.1980.tb01042.x. 
  • Hendricksen, R.; Minson, D. J. (2009). "The feed intake and grazing behaviour of cattle grazing a crop of Lablab purpureus cv. Rongai". The Journal of Agricultural Science 95 (3): 547–54. doi:10.1017/S0021859600087955. 
  • Humphry, E; Konduri, V; Lambrides, J; Magner, T; McIntyre, L; Aitken, B; Liu, J (2002). "Development of a mungbean (Vigna radiata) RFLP linkage map and its comparison with lablab (Lablab purpureus) reveals a high level of colinearity between the two genomes". Theoretical and Applied Genetics 105 (1): 160–6. doi:10.1007/s00122-002-0909-1. PMID 12582573. 
  • Fakhoury, A. M.; Woloshuk, C. P. (2001). "Inhibition of Growth of Aspergillus flavusand Fungal α-Amylases by a Lectin-Like Protein from Lablab purpureus". Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 14 (8): 955–61. doi:10.1094/MPMI.2001.14.8.955. PMID 11497467. 
  • Vanlauwe, B.; Nwoke, O.C.; Diels, J.; Sanginga, N.; Carsky, R.J.; Deckers, J.; Merckx, R. (2000). "Utilization of rock phosphate by crops on a representative toposequence in the Northern Guinea savanna zone of Nigeria: Response by Mucuna pruriens, Lablab purpureus and maize". Soil Biology and Biochemistry 32 (14): 2063–77. doi:10.1016/S0038-0717(00)00149-8. 
  • Liu, C. J. (1996). "Genetic diversity and relationships among Lablab purpureus genotypes evaluated using RAPD as markers". Euphytica 90 (1): 115–9. doi:10.1007/BF00025167 (inactive 2015-01-14). 
  • Hendricksen, RE; Poppi, DP; Minson, DJ (1981). "The voluntary intake, digestibility and retention time by cattle and sheep of stem and leaf fractions of a tropical legume (Lablab purpureus)". Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 32 (2): 389–98. doi:10.1071/AR9810389. 
  • Pengelly, Bruce C.; Maass, Brigitte L. (2001). "Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet – diversity, potential use and determination of a core collection of this multi-purpose tropical legume". Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 48 (3): 261–72. doi:10.1023/A:1011286111384. 

External links[edit]