View Slideshow View Slideshow View Slideshow View Slideshow

Plant Name:       Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.) DC.

                Common name:              

                English:                  Sword bean      

                Marathi:                  Abay/Abai/ Chopdi      

                Hindi:                      Badi sem               

                Known in Jawhar Taluka: Abai   


Interesting facts and history

Its origin is in the Old World tropics and the wide dispersal in historic times is thought to be partly due to carrying the remarkable seeds as curios.

Sword bean is eaten in Tanzania, where the Swahili expression ‘eating sword bean’ means ‘being happy’.          


Identification guide


Sword Bean is a twining, nearly erect annual herb, some cultivars may also be semi-erect and the root system is deep, growing to 6 ft.


sparsely pubescent or glabrous

Leaf blades

6-18 x 3-9 cm, elliptic or ovate-elliptic, base cuneate, apex acute or acuminate; stipules deciduous.  Leaves are shiny, trifoliate


pink and white, 2.5-4 cm across. 3 cm long; pedicels 2-4 mm long; bracteoles c. 2 mm long, obtuse. Calyx tube 6-7 mm long, sparsely pubescent; upper lobes 4-5 mm long, turncate; lower c. 3 mm long. Corolla pink; standard c. 2.8 x 3 cm, suborbiclar; wings long-clawed.

Pods and Seeds

Pods becomes 30 cm long and 5cm wide. It contains 10-14 seeds.

Seeds are elliptical and reaches 3cm long.


Habit / Habitat

It is a climber and a domesticated plant species. It is usually found along bunds of fields.              



1) Global distribution: Pantropical.  it is often considered to have originated in Asia, possibly in Myanmar or adjacent China.

 2)  Availability of the plant species in India: Maharashtra and Kerala"     


Edible parts

World wide use

The fruits are eaten as a vegetable in Africa and Asia. Young, tender seed pods are used worldwide as vegetable.

Used by tribal community in Jawhar

Pods are edible and used as broad beans.


Methodof consumption

Tribal recipe

The young pods are boiled and are cooked with onion and chilli. The excess boiled water is drained.

Other recipes

Young pods are sometimes eaten fresh, but usually steamed or boiled. Mature seeds are boiled. Dry seeds are often boiled in two or three changes of water, and then soaked overnight and boiled again.

Sri Lankan Recipe

Sri Lankan mallum or Shredded Sword Bean Mallum

  • 3/4 pound sword beans (or green or long beans)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion or shallots
  • 5 green chiles (choose your chile according to your tolerance for heat), finely chopped
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon powdered turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon bonito flakes, ground to a powder or very finely chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen grated coconut

Finely shred the beans (for sword beans, shred cross-wise; long and green beans, shred lengthwise). Place the beans and all other ingredients in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and stir to mix well. Lower heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender but not dry.


Nutritional and medicinal information


Proximate analysis of C.gladiate is as follows .

Dry matter (%)= 88.9

 Crude Protein (%)= 30.9

 Crude Fiber (%)= 10.6

 Gross Energy (MJ/kg) =19.3

Minerals- Avg Value in (g/kg DM)

Calcium= 1.9

 Phosphorous= 5.2

 Potassium= 8.9

 Magnesium= 1.5

 Manganese= 1

 Zinc= 4

Copper= 2


  1. Sword bean contains gibberellin A-15, a growth-promoting hormone.
  2. Seeds consist urease which is extracted and used for the application in clinical testing mainly for determining urea in human urine and blood.


  1. Reports have indicated the possibility of mild toxicity of beans when eaten in large quantities. It is advisable that the boiling water should be drained off to remove any poisonous substances coming from the beans
  2. Canavanine, a potentially toxic amino acid is the constituent of seeds of C. gladiate. "


Harvesting and preserving

Young pods can be harvested about 3 - 5 months after sowing. The mature seeds could be collected in 6 - 10 months.   

Seeds are dried and preserved 

Propagation and Storage

  1. Propagules: Seeds / softwood cuttings

Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours. Germination: sow seed 3/8"" deep, tamp the soil, and mulch the seed bed."               


Other uses

In Korea soap is manufactured using seed extracts of sword bean, it is also used for the treatment of athlete’s foot.

The plant is sometimes grown as a green manure crop or as a temporary ground cover 



Kingdom:       Plantae

Division:        Spermatophyta

Sub-division: Angiospermae

Class:             Diocotyledonae

Sub-Class:     Polypetalae

Series:          Calyciflorae

Order:           Rosales

Family:          Leguminosae

Sub-family:   Papilionaceae

Genus :         Canavalia

Species :        gladiate










8 (Tokoya and Takama, 1981),




No Comments

Add a comment:


*Required fields