This species is closely related to Entada rheedii and has often been confused with that species in the literature. The uses of the two species are probably virtually identical[
Acacia scandens Willd.
Entada rumphii Scheff.
Entada scandens (L.) Benth.
Entada tonkinensis Gagnep.
Lens phaseoloides L.
Mimosa scandens L.
Common Name: St. Thomas Bean
The twisted woody stems of this climbing plant are used for coarse cables and jump ropes
Photograph by: David Eickhoff
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Entada phaseoloides is a large, evergreen, woody climber, often with a flattened and spiral stem[
]. The stems can be 100 metres or more long and up to 18cm in diameter at their base[
]. The large seedpods can be up to 100cm long and 12cm wide[
The plant is a rich source of saponins and is commonly used for washing the hair, cleaning clothes etc. It is often gathered from the wild for these saponins and also for its various other uses. The bark is often sold in local markets[
]. The plant is commonly cultivated for saponin production in the Philippines, India to S China, Java and in Queensland[
The plant is poisonous[
The seeds and bark have been used in many countries as a fish poison[
E. Asia - southern China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines to the Pacific Islands.
Found in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from freshwater swamp and inland from the mangrove up to montane forest, at elevations up to 900 metres, occasionally to 1,700 metres[
|Other Uses Rating
A plant of tropical and subtropical areas[
So long as it is not cut too close to the ground, the plant can resprout even from quite old wood. It is usually cut back every three years when being grown for the saponins in its stems[
This species produces some of the largest known leguminous seedpods - they can be more than 100cm long and 12cm wide[
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[
All the following reports need to be treated with care since there is also a report that the plant is poisonous[
The soaked and roasted seeds are eaten[
]. Although poisonous raw, the seeds can be rendered edible by prolonged soaking and roasting[
]. The dark brown seeds are 4 - 6cm in diameter[
The roasted seeds have been used as a coffee substitute[
]. A poor substitute for coffee[
An edible oil is obtained from the seed[
Young leaves are eaten as vegetable[
A sap exuding from the cut branches is used as a drink[
The juice of the stem is drunk to relieve rheumatic joint and muscle pains, and to treat respiratory ailments[
A decoction of the stem is drunk for the treatment of hernia, fish poisoning and gonorrhoea[
The saponin content of the stems make them useful as a wash to treat a range of skin disorders[
The juice of the roots is given for ulcers, abdominal muscle spasms and headaches[
The fruits are regarded as a contraceptive[
The kernels of the seeds are mashed and used for poultices for children having colic[
A fatty oil is obtained from the seed. It is used as a fuel and for an illuminant oil in lamps[
The large seeds are used as beads in necklaces etc[
]. Cut in half, the empty seed-coats can be used to make leg-rattles for dancers[
]. The seeds are also used in games, as baby teethers, and as match boxes[
]. The hollowed out seeds have also been used to make snuff boxes[
Fibres from the bark are manufactured into ropes, sails and nets[
The whole plant is rich in saponins and is used for washing the hair, as a detergent etc[
]. The vine is cut into lengths of about 50 - 100cm and then pounded into thin, flat strips, the width of which depends on the diameter of the piece treated. These strips are then dried. When soaked in water and rubbed, the strips produce a lather which cleanses the scalp very effectively[
The bark is a source of tannins[
Seed - it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.
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