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Lablab purpureus - (L.)Sweet.

Common Name Hyacinth Bean, Bonavist-bean
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards The raw seed is poisonous[34].
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation.
Range Probably originated in the Tropics but has been cultivated for so long that its origins are obscure.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Lablab purpureus Hyacinth Bean, Bonavist-bean

Lablab purpureus Hyacinth Bean, Bonavist-bean


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Bloom Color: Pink. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Lablab purpureus is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER growing to 2 m (6ft 7in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


L. vulgaris. Dolichos lablab. L.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Root  Seed  Seedpod
Edible Uses:

The mature seed is edible as long as it is thoroughly cooked[2, 27, 33, 34, 74, 171]. It has a mild flavour, is rich in protein and can be used as a staple food. The seed can also be prepared as 'tofu' or be fermented into 'tempeh' in the same way that soya beans are used in Japan[183]. The seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw, when it is comparable to mung bean sprouts[179, 183]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. The tender young seedpods and immature seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be used as a green vegetable like French beans[46, 74, 114]. They are also used as a curry vegetable[183]. The immature seedpod contains 3.2% protein, 0.8% fat, 5.4% carbohydrate, 0.81% ash. It is rich in vitamin B1[179]. Leaves - they must be cooked[160, 179]. They can also be dried for later use[183]. The leaves are used as a greens just like spinach[183]. They contain up to 28% protein[160] (dry weight?). Flowers - raw or cooked in soups and stews[183]. Root - large and starchy[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Seed (Fresh weight)
  • 334 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 12.1%
  • Protein: 21.5g; Fat: 1.2g; Carbohydrate: 61.4g; Fibre: 6.8g; Ash: 3.8g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 98mg; Phosphorus: 345mg; Iron: 3.9mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

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.
Anthelmintic  Anticholesterolemic  Antidote  Antispasmodic  Antivinous  Aphrodisiac  Astringent  Carminative  
Cholera  Digestive  Febrifuge  Hypoglycaemic  Miscellany  Stomachic

The plant (though the exact part used is not stipulated) is anticholesterolemic, antidote (to most forms of poison), antivinous, carminative, hypoglycaemic. Prolongs co-agulation time[147, 176, 178]. It is used in the treatment of cholera, vomiting, diarrhoea, leucorrhoea, gonorrhoea, alcoholic intoxication and globefish poisoning[147]. The flowers are antivinous, alexiteric and carminative[218]. The stem is used in the treatment of cholera[218]. The juice from the pods is used to treat inflamed ears and throats[218]. The fully mature seeds are anthelmintic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, digestive, febrifuge and stomachic[218, 240, 283]. They are used in the treatment of sunstroke, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, enteritis, abdominal pain, alcoholism and arsenism[283]. The seed is well dried and then roasted before use[283].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fodder  Green manure  Miscellany

Plants are fairly fast growing and the bacteria on the roots enrich the soil with nitrogen. This makes them a good green manure crop, though they are only really suitable for climates warmer than Britain[46, 61].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Fodder: Pasture  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop  Staple Crop: Protein

Landscape Uses:Arbor, Container. Easily grown in an ordinary garden soil so long as the temperature is sufficient[1]. Succeeds in relatively poor soils so long as they are well-drained[206]. Plants grow best at temperatures between 28 - 30°c though they tolerate mean temperatures as low as 9°c[206]. Prefers a rich moist soil in a warm sheltered position[175]. Prefers a well-drained soil with a high organic matter content and a pH between 5.5 and 6[200]. Some varieties are drought resistant[200]. A perennial species[142], it is not cold-hardy in Britain, though it is occasionally grown as an annual in the ornamental garden[27, 33]. It requires a minimum temperature of 7 - 10°c if it is to survive winter conditions[200]. The hyacinth bean is commonly cultivated in warm temperate and tropical climates for its edible seed, there are many named varieties[183, 200] varying in height from 60cm to 2 metres. Short-day, long-day and daylength-neutral varieties are available, you should use day-length-neutral or long-day varieties in northern latitudes[200]. Plants are fairly fast-growing, young pods are ready to harvest from 70 - 120 days after sowing[200]. 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[200]. Special Features:Edible, Fragrant flowers.

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Agroforestry Services: Understory legume  Legume vegetation, especially the trees and shrubs growing between the forest canopy and the forest floor.
  • Fodder: Pasture  Enclosed tracts of farmland mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs (non-grass herbaceous plants).
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Staple Crop: Protein  (16+ percent protein, 0-15 percent oil). Annuals include beans, chickpeas, lentils, cowpeas, and pigeon peas. Perennials include perennial beans, nuts, leaf protein concentrates, and edible milks.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 2 hours in warm water and sow in early spring in a greenhouse in a fairly rich soil[33, 175]. Either sow 2 seeds to a pot and thin to the strongest plant, or sow in a tray and prick out into individual pots when the plants are large enough to handle. Grow on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts. The seed germinates in 2 - 4 weeks at 25°c.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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 :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

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.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Richard Clark   Fri Dec 29 14:35:09 2000

There is a contradiction about the seed being poisonous: you state that the mature seed is poisonous, by which I expect you mean the dried seed ?? In the uses section, it is stated that the immature pod and seed can be eaten. Can you clarify this?

Tefera T.   Thu Feb 24 13:00:41 2005

It is an interesting crop with iminent potential, specially for subsaharan Africa. Its drought tolerance, though not quantified as yet makes it an attaractive crop particularly for dryland areas. Its existig and unexplored genetic diversity shows as a lot can be done with this crop.

The contradicting view on its consumtion is not to the level which has been thought. What people might have tought could be due some of the seeds blackness. In Kenya, as my friend has told me that black seeded types are feed to breasting mothers. I have also an experience that black seeded types are more marketable than light seeded types. So, people do not love to either eat poisnous food or encourage its marketability. Further research needs to be done before one draw a crude conclusion on the crop. Personally, I love to eat its leaf, its pod and green beans as a vegetable. I also love its grain.

diane armstrong   Thu May 3 2007

canyou clarify--is the mature bean poisonous. Does it need to be boiled in two changes of water, asI have been told?

Brian Clark   Mon Sep 1 2008

We made beef stir fry last night with the pods. The color changes from purple to green when it's cooked. However, I think the raw pods are fine to eat as well, since I had a few. We all ate hefty portions, and feel fine today. Absolutely delicious! I think the dry beans are poisonous, but who would want to eat dry beans anyway? This is a nice quality of the plant, because you can just let the pods dry on the vine until the end of the summer when you are ready to pick them all at once, without any worry of insect or animal predation. Then, plant even more vines the next year. The vines are incredibly large and fast growing!



Am a student at University of Nairobi and would like to do research based on combining ability for flower and pod characters using the black and the brown seeded varieties to determine the heterosis, duo purpose use as a fodder and human food among other traits. I would request to be supported with funds to kickstart the project.

David Shaahu   Wed Dec 31 2008

I want to know about the seed yield, nutritional value, proximate chemical composition, amino acid composition, mineral and vitamin content, and antinutritional factor content of this miracle bean called lablab. Want also to know if there are variations in the chemical and nutritional composition amoung variaties.

Stanley Onyango   Mon Dec 21 2009

Thank you for the good work. I am currently writing a proposal on solid state fermentation that is to try and solve the limiting factors of Lablab usage. i.e reduction of antinutrients and time of preparation. I would like to know any suggestions and help. Thank you and may God bless you.

   Oct 24 2010 12:00AM

We've had this plant growing in Sub Tropical Brisbane, Australia for years. It is the purple flowered, black seed variety and we regularly steam or stir fry the immature seeds and seed pods. We follow the same cooking info as provided for Soya beans (Glycine Max 'Fiskby') and Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus). This is a valuable plant as it grows and produces prolifically with very little care or pest problems. Also recommended as a survival food by many gardening authors.

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