Prota 1: Cereals and pulses/Céréales et légumes secs
Taxon 27: 202 (1978).
Papilionaceae (Leguminosae - Papilionoideae, Fabaceae)
2n = 22
Phaseolus adenanthus G.Mey. (1818).
Wild bean (En). Pois marron (Fr). Fava caranguejo (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Vigna adenantha most probably originated from the Neotropics, where it has its greatest variability. It is distributed pantropically and is occasionally cultivated. In tropical Africa it occurs in most countries, but it has not been recorded from Ethiopia, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique. In the Indian Ocean islands it is found in Madagascar, the Seychelles and Réunion.
The green pods and ripe seeds of Vigna adenantha are eaten as emergency food. In Liberia the plant is or has been cultivated for its edible tuberous roots, which are cooked and eaten. The tuberous roots are also eaten in times of food scarcity in India. Cattle in Sudan browse the plant. In Nigeria a decoction of the whole plant is used as a medicine for gonorrhoea, and mixed with rice water to treat diabetes. With its large pink and white flowers which turn yellow with age, Vigna adenantha may be grown as an ornamental climber.
In tropical America Vigna adenantha provides a good forage containing 17.4% crude protein and 0.18% P.
Perennial climbing herb up to 4 m long, with tuberous roots; stem twining, glabrous or sparsely hairy, rooting at the lower nodes. Leaves alternate, 3-foliolate; stipules oblong-ovate, 3–6 mm long, base slightly cordate, apex acute, conspicuously veined; petiole 1–14 cm long, rachis 0.5–2 cm long; petiolules 3–4 mm long, hairy; leaflets ovate to rhombic, lateral ones slightly asymmetric, (2.5–)5–10(–14) cm × (1.5–)2.5–6.5(–8) cm, base rounded or truncate, apex obtuse to acute, sparsely appressed-hairy on both sides, venation reticulate. Inflorescence an axillary false raceme 5–30 cm long, 6–12-flowered; peduncle up to 25 cm long, rachis 2–7 cm long. Flowers bisexual, papilionaceous; pedicel 2–3 mm long, with ovate-oblong bracteoles 3–4 mm × 2 mm; calyx with tube 3–4 mm long, the 3 lower lobes falcate or narrowly oblong, 3–5 mm long, the upper pair fused into a short, bifid lip, sparsely pubescent; corolla with almost circular standard, 1–2.5 cm × 2–2.5 cm, rose or white with green veins and a green basal eye surrounded by violet-purple inside, wings c. 3 cm long, white-tinged violet, green and yellow at the base, keel c. 5 cm long, with a long beak, spirally incurved for about 3 turns, white to violet-blue; stamens 10, 9 fused but upper one free; ovary superior, appressed-hairy, style slender, strongly curved. Fruit an oblong pod 7–15 cm × 0.5–1.5 cm, slightly curved, flattened, glabrous or slightly hairy, 9–15-seeded. Seeds reniform, 5.5–7.5 mm × 4.5–6 mm × 2.5–5 mm, dark reddish brown; hilum central, small, white.
Vigna comprises about 80 species and occurs throughout the tropics. However, studies of the embryological characters indicate that Vigna adenantha is possibly better classified in the genus Phaseolus.
The seed has a large cavity between the cotyledons which enables it to float, and the distribution pattern of the species indicates that seeds are sometimes dispersed by sea water.
Vigna adenantha is found in humid or swampy locations, along the sea shore and rivers, and in cultivated and disturbed areas at low altitudes. Vigna adenantha is a short-day plant.
For uniform and faster germination, seeds need scarification.
Genetic resources and breeding
The Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Colombia holds 143 accessions of Vigna adenantha. In tropical Africa the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria, holds 18 accessions. Vigna adenantha is widespread pantropically and is not in danger of genetic erosion.
Vigna adenantha will remain of minor importance as an emergency food. More research is needed to evaluate its potential as food, forage, medicinal and ornamental crop.
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Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M. & Jansen, P.C.M., 2006. Vigna adenantha (G.Mey.) Maréchal, Mascherpa & Stainier In: Brink, M. & Belay, G. (Editors). PROTA 1: Cereals and pulses/Céréales et légumes secs. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.