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Vigna hosei - (Craib) Backer

Common Name Sarawak Bean
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known as a wild plant. Naturalized in southern china, where it grows in grass at roadsides, wastelands; at elevations below 500 metres[266 ].
Range Native to Taiwan, Indonesia and Malaysia in tropical southeast Asia. It is also widely cultivated an
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Wet Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Vigna hosei Sarawak Bean

Vigna hosei Sarawak Bean
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Sarawak Bean, Vigna hosei, is a perennial plant producing twining stems 1-2 m long that scrambles over the ground or twine into any surrounding vegetation. Although no plant part is edible and of medicinal important, the plant is an excellent ground cover and green manure crop. Seedling growth is vigorous and young plants quickly suppress growth of weed. It also has the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, hence it enriches the oil and promotes plant growth.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Vigna hosei is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The plant is self-fertile.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Dolichos hosei Craib Vigna oligosperma Backer Vigna parkeri acutifolia Verdc. Vigna parkeri acutifol

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Green manure  Soil stabilization

Agroforestry Uses: The plant is used as a green manure and ground cover crop in young tree plantations, and also in rubber, tea and coconut plantations. Seedling growth is vigorous and young plants quickly suppress weed growth, forming a thick mat of growth with a dense leaf litter, which protects the soil from erosion and prevents the ingress of weeds. Its ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen enriches the soil and promotes the growth of the trees[310 , K ]. Due to its persistence under shade, the plant can enrich a mixture of leguminous covers for young plantation trees. Being a low-growing creeper, it hardly climbs trees, which is considered important for a good cover crop[310 ]. The plant is also being trialled as a green manure in association with annual crops[310 ]. When sown as a cover crop it may be mixed with other leguminous covers such as Calopogonium mucunoides, Centrosema pubescens and Pueraria phaseoloides[310 ]. Other Uses None known

Special Uses

Food Forest  Ground Cover  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the wet tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,100 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 15 - 35°c[418 ]. It does not tolerate frosts. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 3,000 - 3,500mm, but tolerates 2,500 - 4,000mm[418 ]. Succeeds in full sun and in light shade[418 ]. Succeeds in sandy to clayey soils and is tolerant of occasional waterlogging[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 5, tolerating 4 - 5.5[418 ]. The plant has a shallow root system and a low tolerance of drought[310 ]. Flowering commences about 6 months after planting, self-pollination is the rule[310 ]. An outstanding characteristic of the plant is its persistence under shade, but full sunlight is required for good seed production[310 ]. Seed production is often poor and only about 50 kilos per hectare can be harvested. Harvesting the seed on a field scale is also difficult[310 ]. Besides producing normal aerial flowers and pods, the plant also produces flowers and pods which are hidden under the litter of leaves covering the soil[310 ]. A ground cover of Vigna hosei can be removed easily by hoeing the soil, followed by a clean weeding[310 ]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby. Although non-specific in its Rhizobium requirement, inoculation is preferably carried out with a selected cowpea strain such as CB 756[310 , 755 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Prior to sowing, the seeds may be inoculated with compost containing an appropriate Rhizobium strain[310 ] Cuttings - it is recommended to plant during the rainy season and to use 20cm long, 3-noded cuttings planted 100 - 150cm apart[310 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Data Deficient

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Vigna angularisAdzuki BeanAnnual0.8 10-12 FLMHSNDM422
Vigna mungoBlack Gram, Urd Bean, Black Matpe, Black Mung BeanAnnual1.0 10-12 FLMHNMWe422
Vigna radiataMung Bean, Thai Mung BeanAnnual0.8 10-12 FLMHSNDM422
Vigna unguiculata cylindricaJerusalem PeaAnnual0.5 10-12  LMNM210
Vigna unguiculata unguiculataBlack-Eyed PeaAnnual Climber4.0 10-12 FLMHSNDM422

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(Craib) Backer

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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