Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet

Frost-tender, fast-growing, twining, perennial climber, with leaves composed of three triangular leaflets, and racemes, to 40cm long, of fragrant purple or white pea-like flowers in summer and autumn, followed by 10-15cm long pods containing beans ranging from white to black in colour.  To 6m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This is a handsome, climbing, annual plant, native of the East Indies.  It, occasionally, is raised from imported seed, and in a stove may be cultivated without difficulty; but, like all other tropical species of this genus, it cannot be made to bear the natural climate of even our finest summers.’  [BR f.830/1824]. 

‘Although always considered as a native of Egypt, Hasselquist assures us, that this plant is only cultivated there, and was most probably introduced from Europe, as it is called by the inhabitants the European Bean.  Is cultivated for the table in several warm countries, in the same manner as the kidney-bean is with us; indeed Phaseolus and Dolichos are very nearly allied.  Is usually considered as a stove plant, but is marked by Mr. Donn as a hardy annual. […] Said in the Hortus Kewensis to have been cultivated by the Duchess of Beaufort, in 1714.’  [BM t.896/1806]. 

‘The legumes when fresh and young are sapid and salubrious, and are cooked and eaten in the manner of kidney beans.’  [Don].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in 1857 catalogue [T.393/1857].


Published Dec 17, 2009 - 03:40 PM | Last updated Jul 21, 2010 - 12:22 PM

Figured are trifoliate leaves, pea-like reddish-purple flowers flowers and legumes.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine  t.896, 1806.

Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet | BM t.896/1806 | BHL

More details about Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweet
Family Fabaceae
Region of origin

Tropical Africa

  • Dolichos lablab L.
  • Dolichos purpureus L.
Common Name

Bonavist, Hyacinth bean, Egyptian bean, Indian bean

Name in the Camden Park Record

Dolichos lablab

Confidence level high