Hyacinth Bean

Dolichos lablab


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, Hyacinth Bean was sold by his favorite nurseryman, Bernard McMahon, in 1804, and it is possible that Jefferson's "purple" bean was the Dolichos lablab.


  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.

Further Sources

Growth Type: Annual Color(s): Pink, Purple, White Hardiness Zones: 1 - 10 Location at Monticello: Vegetable Garden Planting Conditions: Full Sun Map it: 38.008886,-78.453369

Visit Monticello's Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Hyacinth Bean.

Blooming Dates 2001: Jul 7 – Nov 152002: Jul 5 – Nov 152003: Jul 25 – Nov 212004: Jul 19 – Nov 122005: Jul 20 – Nov 82006: Jun 30 – Nov 82007: Jul 6 – Nov 52008: Jul 11 – Oct 312009: Jul 22 – Nov 162010: Jul 24 – Dec 12011: Jul 7 – Dec 62012: Jul 13 – Dec 42013: Aug 14 – Dec 42014: Jul 2 – Nov 21