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Hyacinth Bean: Photos and Health Benefits

Updated on June 5, 2014
Lablab purpureus
Lablab purpureus | Source

The hyacinth bean, or bataw as we call it in my home country is a vine with heart shape leaves and purple flowers which turns into clusters of pods. Like the chayote plant, the hyacinth bean's shoots along with its pods is consumed.

Hyacinth bean is a twining, climbing plant and its purple colored stem and flowers is a treat in a yard. There are also varities of this plant that bears white or yellow flowers, but I was only familiar with this kind. The young and matured pods both displays the purple color on their edges.

With the matured pods, the seeds are gathered and the pods are disregarded while with the young ones it is all eaten up with the rough edges removed.

Some grows this vine as a forage, but I hadn't recalled or remember my parents growing hyacinth bean for that purpose, we grow hyacinth bean for our own consumption, usually the pods. The young ones are tender, with their light green seeds still developing. The matured fruits has rough, purplish edges that has to be remove, and the pods split before cooking. With the really matured ones, only the seeds are taken.

Not only the fruits are eaten but the shoots as well can be consumed. In Filipino cuisine, hyacinth bean shoots are cook along with other vegetables, such as the pinakbet dish of the Ilocanos.

Hyacinth bean loves the warm weather, grows fast and displays clusters of gorgeous purple flowers and it is also grown for this reason.

Below are photos of hyacinth beans. The one below was a friend's and was taken late February. While our hyacinth took a break for the Winter season, theirs appears to be lively and blooming with flowers and already has young pods. I was told its been green all year last year.

Hyacinth bean flowers from a friend's backyard.
Hyacinth bean flowers from a friend's backyard. | Source

Did you know?

* Hyacinth beans can be planted as ornamental plants.

* The purple flowers are fragrant and helps attracts both hummers and butterflies in the yard.

* The bean is made into a curry and is also used as a flavoring to a rice-based breakfast called Akki Rotti in the state of Karnataka (South West India.)

* The hyacinth bean is also known as calavance, Indian beans, and Egyptian bean.

* It is best to consume the dry hyacinth bean seeds after prolonged boiling as they are poisonous. If consumed raw it can cause cyanide poisoning as the seeds are highly concentrated with cyanogenic glycoside.

* Even the flowers of the plant can be consumed.

* The roots are consumed as well, and the soil is enriched with nitrogen by the bacteria found on this plants roots.

Up close with the young pods of a hyacinth bean.
Up close with the young pods of a hyacinth bean. | Source
Fresh pods I brought home from my friend's backyard. My mom was happy to see this sitting on the table when she came home from work. And I just knew what recipe she have in mind.
Fresh pods I brought home from my friend's backyard. My mom was happy to see this sitting on the table when she came home from work. And I just knew what recipe she have in mind. | Source
Hyacinth beans we had in our patio few years ago.
Hyacinth beans we had in our patio few years ago. | Source

Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses

* Hyacinth bean is a good source of calcium, C vitamin, zinc, carotene, iron, and B1 vitamin.

* The stems of hyacinth bean is used for the treatment of cholera.

* The pods juice is use for inflamed throat and ears treatment.

* Stir-baked, the hyacinth bean is used to reduce vomiting and nausea incidents.

* Infusion of the leaves is also used into treating gonorrhea.

* A poultice made from the plant's leaves is used to treat snake bites but when mix together with turmeric and rice flowers, it can help with treating eczema.

Cooked hayacinth bean pods.
Cooked hayacinth bean pods. | Source

Hyacinth Bean


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    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      5 years ago from USA

      A crab meat salad with corn on the cob sounds good. Living in a fishing village looks interesting to me. Makes me reminisce about those times my dad would treat my younger brother and I for an early walk by the shore, says good for my asthma. I love the sunrise and a few times we got some fresh fish too as we are lucky the fishermen just got back on shore before we decided to go home. Thanks for sharing that Avian ^-^'

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Wow, precy anza, you sure have some of the finest things to eat. I remember when I was young and living in a fishing village, the lobstermen wanted nothing to do with crabs in their traps. His wife and my mother used to cook the crab, and it was wonderful eating. Of course, nowadays, everyone wants crabmeat, but those were the days. We frequently had crab salad with corn on the cob, a great feast.

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi Jill :)

      Yes, they are edible. Just make sure to really boil the seeds. With the pods, cooked them well too. There was this time I cooked them half cooked and they tasted a bit bitter. Thank you for stopping by! ^-^'

    • precy anza profile imageAUTHOR

      precy anza 

      5 years ago from USA

      @ livingsta

      Glad to know you like how they taste :) I prefer the young ones with the seeds still developing. I rarely see it here too on Asian stores, luckily we have the plant so we don't have to hunt which stores have it ^-^' Thanks for stopping by!

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      5 years ago from United States

      I did not know the bean was edible. Thanks for the info! A lovely hub well worth sharing. --Jill

    • livingsta profile image


      5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Thank you for this hub. I know these beans and I do like their taste. These beans are very rare here in the UK and seen sometimes in selected Asian food stores, that too very rarely.

      Voted up and sharing!


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