Closely related to Canavalia ensiformis[
]. The species differ as follows:- The seeds of this species are red, with a hilum that extends nearly the whole length of the seed (white in Canavalia ensiformis, with a hilum that extends to less than half the length of the seed); the pod shape is more curved in this species; flower size and colour differ - pink or white in this species, purple in Canavalia ensiformis.
Canavalia incurva Thouars
Canavalia machaeroides (DC.) Steud.
Canavalia maxima Thouars
Dolichos gladiatus Jacq.
Dolichos incurvus Thunb.
Malocchia gladiate (Jacq.) Savi
Common Name: Sword Bean
Canavalia gladiata is a vigorous, deep-rooted, annual to perennial climbing plant. The stems, which are often slightly woody, can grow up to 10 metres long, scrambling over the ground or twining into other plants for support[
The plant has a long history of cultivation - it is believed to have originated in eastern Asia and the seed carried to many other areas of the tropics. It is widely cultivated as an annual in tropical and some subtropical areas for its edible seeds and seedpods[
]. The plant is also grown as an ornamental on fences and against houses[
The mature seeds contain toxic alkaloids. These can be destroyed by thoroughly boiling the seeds twice in salt water[
Tropical Asia and Africa.
Not known in the wild.
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental
Grows well in lowland tropical areas, succeeding at elevations up to 1,500 metres[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range15 - 30 °c, but can tolerate 12 - 36°c[
]. The foliage can not tolerate frost, but any mature beans remain unaffected[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 - 1,800mm, but tolerates 600 - 2,600mm[
An easily grown plant, it is not fussy about soil type or fertility, though it prefers a soil rich in organic matter[
]. Tolerates some salinity in the soil[
]. Plants are shade tolerant[
]. A deep rooted plant, it is drought resistant when established and can also tolerate some waterlogging[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, tolerating 4.3 - 7.5[
Young pods can be harvested about 3 - 5 months after sowing, the mature seeds in 6 - 10 months[
Average yields of dry seed are about 0.7 - 1.5 tonnes/ha, while the optimum is 4.6 tonnes/ha[
]. 40- 5 0 tonnes/ha of green manure/green vegetation can be obtained[
A short day plant, often developing a bushy habit, but more commonly a climbing plant[
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[
]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Young seedpods - raw or more commonly cooked and used as a vegetable[
]. The pod is 20 - 30cm long and 2cm wide[
Seeds - cooked[
]. Thorough boiling is necessary in order to destroy a toxic alkaloid[
]. The seedcoats are often removed, then the seeds are cooked in two or three changes of water[
]. The seed is about 20mm long[
]. (The report actually says that the seed is 20mm x 130mm, but this is surely a misprint[
Urease is extracted from the seed; it is used in clinical laboratories for the in-vitro determination of urea in human blood[
In Korea it is used in the treatment of vomiting, abdominal dropsy, kidney-related lumbago, asthma, obesity, stomach-ache, dysentery, coughs, headache, intercostal neuralgia, epilepsy, schizophrenia, inflammatory diseases and swellings[
]. A soap is marketed there which is based on extracts of sword bean; it is used for the treatment of athlete’s foot and acne[
In Japan it is effective in treating ozena, haemorrhoids, pyorrhoea, otitis media, boils and cancers, all kinds of inflammatory diseases and atopic dermatitis[
The plant is sometimes grown as a green manure crop or as a temporary ground cover[
Seed - sow in situ, placing the seeds 2 - 3cm deep in the soil[
]. The seed germinates in about 72 hours[