Purple Hyacinth Bean – Dolichos lablab

Purple Hyacinth Beans
Purple Hyacinth Beans

We were driving down the road when I saw this vine growing in ecstatic abundance over a mailbox. I made my husband stop the car and I jumped out to get a closer look and take pictures. Shortly after we stopped an elderly couple came down the drive and commented on my picture taking…. they told me what it was, I had never seen such a purple podded bean before, and then they told me to come back when they would be ripe, to pick as many seedpods as I wanted. I have done just that, I will now have Lablab growing here next spring!

These beans are a staple food in tropical Africa and Asia. It has been known on this continent since at least Thomas Jefferson’s time, since he grew them and ate them! The immature pods are eaten like green beans. They have a very strong bean taste and many people prefer them mixed with other beans or green vegetables.

The plant has been used in the treatment of cholera, vomiting, and diarrhea. The juice from the pods has been used to treat inflamed ears and throat. It has also been used as an antidote to poisons!

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