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Useful Tropical Plants

Mucuna pruriens utilis

(Wall. ex Wight) Baker ex Burck.

Fabaceae

+ Synonyms

Carpopogon capitatus Roxb.

Carpopogon niveum Roxb.

Macranthus cochinchinensis Lour.

Mucuna aterrima (Piper. & Tracy.) Holland.

Mucuna atrocarpa F.P.Metcalf

Mucuna capitata Wight & Arn.

Mucuna deeringiana (Bort.) Merr.

Mucuna hassjoo (Piper & Tracy) Mansf.

Mucuna martinii H.Lev. & Vaniot

Mucuna nivea (Roxb.) Wight & Arn.

Mucuna pruriens capitata Burck

Mucuna pruriens nivea (Roxb.) Haines

Mucuna utilis Wall. ex Wight

Stizolobium aterrimum Piper & Tracy

Stizolobium deeringianum Bort.

Stizolobium hassjoo Piper & Tracy

Stizolobium pruriens hassjoo (Piper & Tracy) Makino

Stizolobium utile (Wall. ex Wight) Ditmer

Common Name: Velvet Bean

Mucuna pruriens utilis
Drawing of the flowers, leaves and seedpods
Photograph by: Wight, R., Icones Plantarum Indiae Orientalis, vol. 1: t. 280 (1846) [Rungia]
Creative Commons License

General Information

Velvet bean is an annual, or sometimes a short-lived perennial, climbing plant producing twining stems that usually grow around 4 metres long but can occasionally be up to 18 metres[
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
].
The plant is widely cultivated in tropical areas as an animal feed, emergency human food and for medicinal purposes[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It differs mainly from the main species in that the seed pods of this plant do not have the irritant hairs found on the main species[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Known Hazards

The seed contains a range of anti-nutritive substances and can be toxic for human and non-ruminant animal consumption. The most important toxic compounds are the non-protein amino acids L-dopa (content in seeds <2% - >7%) and hallucinogenic tryptamines[
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
]. Furthermore, trypsin-inhibiting activities have been detected in the seed[
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Derived in cultivation from Mucuna pruriens.

Habitat

Not known in a truly wild situation

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual/Perennial
Height4.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsSelf
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental

Cultivation Details

Velvet bean is native to the hot and humid tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 2,100 metres, though it can also be cultivated in the sub-tropical and warm temperate regions[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Young growth can be severely damaged at 5°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 3,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Prefers a well-drained, moist, humus-rich soil and a position in full sun or partial shade[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The plant has some tolerance to drought but is not tolerant to waterlogging[
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4 - 7.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Velvet bean grows very fast and can cover the ground in 2 - 3 months[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Distribution of the roots tends to be very shallow and concentrated in the fertile topsoil[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Roots form where creeping stems touch the soil[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Flowering commences 90 - 145 days after sowing, and pods begin to ripen 2 - 3 months after flowering. The first harvest of dry seed may be expected after 200 - 230 days[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
On good soils in the southern United States, seed yields of 900 - 1,200 kilos per hectare have been achieved. In Hawaii up to 1,500 kilos have been obtained, whilst in India yields range from 250 - 1,150 kilos[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
When grown as a cover crop in rubber plantation a fresh organic matter yield of about 2 tonnes per hectare can be obtained in about 6 months[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
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
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. 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.

Edible Uses

Seed - cooked. It is sometimes eaten as a pulse[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is utilized in the manufacture of miso[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The seeds are also fermented into tempeh[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. The seed contains a range of anti-nutritive substances, the most important of which are the non-protein amino acids L-dopa (content in seeds <2% - >7%) and hallucinogenic tryptamines[
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
]. Seed treatment is best done by boiling them in water for one hour; pressure-cooking them for 20 minutes; or boiling them in water for 30 minutes after presoaking in water for 48 hours[
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
].
The roasted seed is sometimes used as a coffee substitute[
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
].

Immature seedpods - cooked and eaten like runner beans[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Young leaves - steamed or boiled and eaten as a vegetable with rice[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
].

Medicinal

Velvet bean has a long history of medical use, with records of it being used in Ayurvedic medicine over 2,000 years ago[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. It is diuretic and aphrodisiac[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The seeds of the plant are a source of the substance L-dopa, which revolutionized the treatment of Parkinson's Disease in the 1960's[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The seeds also contain hallucinogenic toxic compounds[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

The roots are diuretic[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. They are used internally in the treatment of paralysis, nervous complaints and kidney problems[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. Externally, they are used in the treatment of elephantiasis and dropsy[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
]. The roots are harvested as required and can be dried for later use[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

The seeds are aphrodisiac[
238
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant grows very fast, and can cover the ground in 2 - 3 months, forming a thick even blanket about 60 cm deep that can smother most weeds. Its climbing habit further contributes to its capacity to suppress the growth of weeds. This vigorous growth makes velvet bean one of the most suitable crops for reclaiming land infested with weeds, especially with vigorous weeds such as Cynodon dactylon, Cyperus rotundus, and Imperata cylindrica[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
,
415
Title
Tropical Forages
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.tropicalforages.info/key/Forages/Media/Html/index.htm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Mainly focussed on forage plants, the site gives a lot of information on the plant, with a good botanical description, details of cultivation, plant uses and a good selection of photographs.
].
It is recommended for use in rotation with cotton in Brazil in order to limit Fusarium oxysporum and Meloidogyne incognita infestation[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
In Central America, it is widely grown either relay planted with maize or as a rainy season fallow crop in rotation with dry season maize[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It was formerly an important cover crop in citrus and banana plantations[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The plant is often used as a green manure and cover crop[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The plant should be dug into the soil immediately after harvesting, otherwise up to 50% of the nitrogen content can be lost[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Other Uses

None known

Propagation

Seed - pre-soak dried seed for 24 hours in warm water prior to sowing. Sow in situ - germination takes 4 - 7 days with around 90 - 100% of the seeds sprouting[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

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