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Lablab purpureu - (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 purpureu Hyacinth Bean, Bonavist-bean

Lablab purpureu 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 purpureu 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.


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.

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

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

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

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.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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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

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 :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Lablab purpureusHyacinth Bean, Bonavist-beanPerennial Climber2.0 9-11 FLMHNM423

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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