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Toxic parts

The raw seed is poisonous[1].

Edible uses


The mature seed is edible as long as it is thoroughly cooked[2][3][4][1][5][6]. 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[7]. The seed can also be sprouted and eaten raw, when it is comparable to mung bean sprouts[8][7]. A nutritional analysis is available[9].

The tender young seedpods and immature seeds can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be used as a green vegetable like French beans[10][5][11]. They are also used as a curry vegetable[7]. The immature seedpod contains 3.2% protein, 0.8% fat, 5.4% carbohydrate, 0.81% ash. It is rich in vitamin B1[8]. Leaves - they must be cooked[12][8]. They can also be dried for later use[7]. The leaves are used as a greens just like spinach[7]. They contain up to 28% protein[12] (dry weight?). Flowers - raw or cooked in soups and stews[7].

Root - large and starchy[7].




Material 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[10][13].
There are no material uses listed for Lablab purpureus.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

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[14][15][16]. It is used in the treatment of cholera, vomiting, diarrhoea, leucorrhoea, gonorrhoea, alcoholic intoxication and globefish poisoning[14].

The flowers are antivinous, alexiteric and carminative[9]. The stem is used in the treatment of cholera[9]. The juice from the pods is used to treat inflamed ears and throats[9].

The seeds are anthelmintic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, digestive, febrifuge and stomachic[9][17].


Ecosystem niche/layer


Ecological Functions

Green manure

Nitrogen fixer


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - pre-soak for 2 hours in warm water and sow in early spring in a greenhouse in a fairly rich soil[4][18]. 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.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Lablab purpureus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Easily grown in an ordinary garden soil so long as the temperature is sufficient[19]. Succeeds in relatively poor soils so long as they are well-drained[20]. Plants grow best at temperatures between 28 - 30°c though they tolerate mean temperatures as low as 9°c[20]. Prefers a rich moist soil in a warm sheltered position[18]. Prefers a well-drained soil with a high organic matter content and a pH between 5.5 and 6[21]. Some varieties are drought resistant[21].

A perennial species[22], it is not cold-hardy in Britain, though it is occasionally grown as an annual in the ornamental garden[3][4]. It requires a minimum temperature of 7 - 10°c if it is to survive winter conditions[21]. The hyacinth bean is commonly cultivated in warm temperate and tropical climates for its edible seed, there are many named varieties[7][21] 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[21]. Plants are fairly fast-growing, young pods are ready to harvest from 70 - 120 days after sowing[21].

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[21].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Lablab purpureus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Lablab purpureus.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Lablab purpureus
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
2 x meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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  1. ? Harrison. S. Wallis. M. Masefield. G. The Oxford Book of Food Plants. Oxford University Press (1975-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  3. ? Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
  4. ? Organ. J. Rare Vegetables for Garden and Table. Faber (1960-00-00)
  5. ? Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
  6. ? 6.06.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  7. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  8. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
  9. ? Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
  10. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Chakravarty. H. L. The Plant Wealth of Iraq. ()
  12. ? Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. ()
  13. ? 13.013.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  14. ? ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
  15. ? 15.015.1 Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Institute of Chinese Medicine, Los Angeles (1985-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Stuart. Rev. G. A. Chinese Materia Medica. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre ()
  17. ? 17.017.1 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
  18. ? 18.018.1 Bird. R. (Editor) Focus on Plants. Volume 5. (formerly 'Growing from seed') Thompson and Morgan. (1991-00-00)
  19. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  20. ? 20.020.1 Larkcom J. Oriental Vegetables John Murray ISBN 0-7195-4781-4 (1991-00-00)
  21. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  22. ? Brouk. B. Plants Consumed by Man. Academic Press ISBN 0-12-136450-x (1975-00-00)

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