Monday 23 November 2015

SA Garden Catalogue: Velvet Bean

Scientific name: Mucuna pruriens
Common name: Velvet bean, Cowhage, Picapica, Cowitch
Malay name:
Origin: Africa/India

The Velvet bean is a climbing flowering plant with flowers the colour of white, light purple or dark purple. There are loose hairs covering the young leaves and seed pods (hence the name Velvet bean) of the flowers and these can caused severe irritation of the skin when contacted.

I was given four beans to grow but only three thrived. The plants grow rather quickly and there were flowers which I did not have the opportunity to capture with my camera. Hopefully the beans can be documented.

Actually it was only out of curiosity that I grew this legume plant, whose major use is as manure and animal feed. As a minor food rich in protein, the beans can be a garnish, condiment or vegetable (not unlike soyabean, cowpea and groundnut). But the beans must be cooked to get rid of some toxic chemicals that they contain. The beans also contains serotonin and nicotine that can be mind altering substances.