Dolichos lablab - Hyacinth Bean

Hyacinth Bean

Common Name: Hyacinth Bean, Egyptian Bean, Indian Bean[1]

Scientific Name: Dolichos lablab (Lablab purpurea)

Description: Tropical vine grown as a garden annual; rich light and deep purple flowers and burgundy seed pods; lush dark green foliage tinged purple

Size: Twining stems grow 6 to 20 feet; fast growing

Cultural Information: Prefers rich, well-drained soil and full sun; regular feeding

Historical Notes: This ornamental vine is native to the tropical regions of Africa and is cultivated extensively in Asia and North Africa for its edible fruit pods, which, like the flowers, are highly ornamental. The hyacinth bean, also known as Egyptian and Indian bean, was introduced to European gardens by the early 1700s and was sold by American nurserymen by the early 19th century. In 1812, Thomas Jefferson recorded planting "Arbor beans white, scarlet, crimson, purple, at the trees of the level on both sides of the terrasses, and on long walk of [kitchen] garden."[2] Although he does not specifically cite this species, it is possible that his "purple" bean was the Dolichos lablab.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 474. Manuscript and transcription at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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