Lablab purpureus (hyacinth bean)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Lablab purpureus
Preferred Common Name
- hyacinth bean
Other Scientific Names
- Dolichos bengalensis
- Dolichos lablab
- Lablab niger
- Lablab vulgaris SAVI
International Common Names
- English: lablab bean
- Spanish: dolico lablab
- French: dolic lablab; dolique lablab
Local Common Names
- Brazil: cumandiata; labe-labe
- Cuba: frijol caballero
- Germany: Faselbohne; Helmbohne; Schlangenbohne
- Italy: dolico lablab; fagiolo indiano
- DOLLA (Dolichos lablab)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Fabales
- Family: Fabaceae
- Genus: Lablab
- Species: Lablab purpureus
DescriptionTop of page
A bushy or a climbing and branching, pubescent herbaceous perennial, often grown as an annual, up to 6 m tall, with a well-developed tap root with many laterals and well developed adventitious roots. Leaves alternate, trifoliolate; leaflets broadly ovate, 5–15 x 4–15 cm, entire, subglabrous or soft hairy. Inflorescences stiff axillary racemes with many flowers; peduncle 4–23 cm long, often compressed, glabrescent; rachis 2–24 cm long; flowers arising 1–5 together from tubercles on rachis; pedicels short, square, sparsely pubescent; flowers white, pink, red or purple; stamens diadelphous (9 + 1); ovary sessile, 10 mm long, finely pubescent; style abruptly upturned, 8 mm long; stigma capitate, glandular. Pods variable in shape and colour, flat or inflated, 5-20 x 1–5 cm, straight or curved, usually with 3–6 ovoid seeds of varying colour and size.
Other Botanical Information
The variability of lablab is great: many cultivars exist, and many subclassifications of the species can be found in the literature. Some distinguish subspecies, others varieties. For cultivated plants, the distinction of cultivar groups seems most appropriate.
- Cultivar group Lablab (widely distributed): mature seeds with the long axis at right angles to the suture; pods dehiscent or indehiscent; seeds not longer than one third to one quarter of the width of the mature pod.
- Cultivar group Ensiformis (South-East Asia, East Africa): mature seeds with long axis more or less oblique to the suture, nearly filling the mature pod; pods indehiscent; when young, difficult to distinguish from cultivar group Lablab.
- Cultivar group Bengalensis (South Asia, East Africa): mature seeds with long axis parallel to the suture, more or less filling the mature pod, gibbous dorsally and at base; pods indehiscent.
DistributionTop of page
Lablab bean is indigenous to South-east Asia and has been introduced to Africa and other tropical and subtropical countries. It has now spread throughout the tropics and is cultivated in warmer regions of the world. It is mainly cultivated in India, South-East Asia, Egypt and the Sudan (Pratap and Kumar, 2011). It is well established as a food crop in India and South-east Asia, and is also widely grown by small farmers in Africa, being an important subsistence farmer crop in many countries, especially the Sudan (George, 2011).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Habitat ListTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Growth and Development
Germination is epigeal and normally takes 5 days. Seed remains viable for 2–3 years and on average 85–95% germinate. Growth period varies from 75 to 300 days. Improved cultivars start fruiting 60–65 days after sowing and continue for 90–100 days. Early-maturing cultivars that can be grown all year round produce pods 60 days after sowing and continue up to 120 days. Mature seeds are harvested 150–210 days after sowing, depending upon cultivar and time of sowing. In India, short-day cultivars start flowering 42–330 days after sowing, depending on the sowing date. The flowers are mainly cross-pollinated.
Lablab is a short-day plant. It requires high temperatures to grow well (18–30°C). Minimum temperature for growth is 3°C. Its frost tolerance is low; light frosts damage the leaves but do not kill the plants. It prefers rainfall at 750–2500 mm/year. Once established (2–3 months after sowing), lablab is drought-tolerant. It has a deep root system which can make use of residual soil moisture. It is reported to grow in areas with rainfall at 200–2500 mm/year. Plants do not tolerate standing brackish water or waterlogging. In India and Myanmar, the plants are often grown on exposed sandy river banks. Provided drainage is good, the plant is extremely tolerant of soil texture, growing in deep sands to heavy clays, pH ranging from 5–7.8. Lablab prefers the lower altitudes but is grown as a dry-land crop up to 2000 m in the tropics.
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki||Pathogen|
UsesTop of page
In South-East Asia lablab is popular as a vegetable and young leaves, flowers and pods of lablab are used as vegetables. The young fruits are eaten boiled like common beans or used in curries; immature green seeds are eaten boiled or roasted; leaves, young shoots and inflorescences are eaten boiled. In other parts of Asia, lablab is predominantly used as a pulse and mature seeds are consumed after cooking as dhal and sometimes used as a substitute for broad beans in the preparation of the fried bean cake tanniah. It should be emphasized that some types and cultivars require cooking before being eaten. Sometimes sprouted seeds are sun-dried and stored to use as a vegetable. Lablab is also used as fodder, hay, silage, green manure and as a cover crop. Protein concentrates can be made from seeds. It makes good silage and is used as green manure in soil improvement and often grown as a second crop in rice fields. Seeds and leaves are also used for medicinal purposes (Pratap and Kumar, 2011)).
Uses ListTop of page
Animal feed, fodder, forage
- Fodder/animal feed
- Erosion control or dune stabilization
- Soil improvement
Human food and beverage
BibliographyTop of page Duke JA, 1981. Handbook of legumes of world economic importance. New York and London:Plenum Press,102-106.
Shivashankar G et al., 1971. Inheritance studies and breeding in Dolichos. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Subtropical and Tropical Horticulture, February 1972. Bangalore, India.
Skerman PJ, 1977. Tropical forage legumes. FAO, Rome. Plant Production and Protection Series No 2, 314-322.
von Schaaffhausen R, 1963. Dolichos lablab or hyacinth bean: its uses for feed, food and soil improvement. Economic Botany, 17:146-153.
ReferencesTop of page
Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff MG, et al. , 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue 1):22-96.
CABI Data Mining, Undated. CAB Abstracts Data Mining.,
Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff M G, et al, 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba. 6 (Special Issue No. 1), 22-96.
Distribution MapsTop of page
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