Mucuna pruriens utilis
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 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[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It is cultivated in parts of the tropics for its content of L-DOPA, which is used by the pharmaceutical industry, and is also grown as a green manure to improve the soil. The plant is widely cultivated in tropical areas as an animal feed, emergency human food and for medicinal purposes[
]. 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[
]. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
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[
]. Furthermore, trypsin-inhibiting activities have been detected in the seed[
Derived in cultivation from Mucuna pruriens.
Not known in a truly wild situation
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental
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[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 10 - 35°c[
]. Young growth can be severely damaged at 5°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 1,500mm, but tolerates 1,000 - 3,000mm[
Prefers a well-drained, moist, humus-rich soil and a position in full sun or partial shade[
]. The plant has some tolerance to drought but is not tolerant to waterlogging[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6.5, tolerating 4 - 7.5[
Velvet bean grows very fast and can cover the ground in 2 - 3 months[
Distribution of the roots tends to be very shallow and concentrated in the fertile topsoil[
Roots form where creeping stems touch the soil[
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[
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[
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[
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.
Seed - cooked. It is sometimes eaten as a pulse[
]. It is utilized in the manufacture of miso[
]. The seeds are also fermented into tempeh[
]. 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[
]. 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[
The roasted seed is sometimes used as a coffee substitute[
Immature seedpods - cooked and eaten like runner beans[
Young leaves - steamed or boiled and eaten as a vegetable with rice[
Velvet bean has a long history of medical use, with records of it being used in Ayurvedic medicine over 2,000 years ago[
]. It is diuretic and aphrodisiac[
]. 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[
]. The seeds also contain hallucinogenic toxic compounds[
The roots are diuretic[
]. They are used internally in the treatment of paralysis, nervous complaints and kidney problems[
]. Externally, they are used in the treatment of elephantiasis and dropsy[
]. The roots are harvested as required and can be dried for later use[
The seeds are aphrodisiac[
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[
It is recommended for use in rotation with cotton in Brazil in order to limit Fusarium oxysporum and Meloidogyne incognita infestation[
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[
]. It was formerly an important cover crop in citrus and banana plantations[
The plant is often used as a green manure and cover crop[
]. The plant should be dug into the soil immediately after harvesting, otherwise up to 50% of the nitrogen content can be lost[
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[