Also called Bonavista, Seven Year Bean, Garden Lablab and Poor Man’s Bean, it is related to the green manure and fodder crop of lablab but this garden variety gives a wider bean and has no tough parchment inside the pod.
The dry seed comes in black, dark and reddish brown with a long white hilum, or strip, on the side.
About the Name:
dolichos is Greek for "long"; lablab is the Egyptian name adopted by Linnaeus; and niger stems from the Latin for "black", referring to the colour of the seed.
Egypt. Now found in many tropical parts of the world.
Also called Bonavista, Seven Year Bean, Garden Lablab and Poor Man’s Bean, it is related to the green manure and fodder crop of lablab but this garden variety gives a wider bean and has no tough parchment inside the pod. The dry seed comes in black, dark and reddish brown with a long white hilum, or strip, on the side.
There have been a dozen types of hyacinth bean sent to Seed Savers mostly from Queensland and nearly all have black seeds.
One from Victoria has brown seeds, and two tropical types have dark brown seeds speckled with red.
In Malaysia there is a variety called Kachang Kara Puteh which has pale yellow pods
, white flowers and white seeds. The colours of the flowers vary from white through pink to purple, and the pods vary in colour too.
Hyacinth bean needs a very strong trellis or a fence on which to grow. In the first year it will produce mostly leaves, but from the second year, it will flower heavily and bear pods for several months. The vine will last for about five years in warm climates.
Its leaves die back in the cool of winter. It can grow in cooler areas but has a shorter life span. It grows even in Mudgee, NSW where it is treated as an annual because of the frost. Seed Savers' subscribers grow it in Perth, Adelaide and in many parts of Queensland.
In Brisbane the plant has been seen growing wild, sharing a fence with bitter gourds and the Madagascar (lima) bean, which is also perennial
This legume tolerates drought and poor soils. It is, we believe, uncommon in New Zealand, but it would be worthwhile finding local sources and multiplying them.
Seed saving notes:
The large vine gives clusters of perfect (both male and female parts in one), insect-pollinated flowers looking like a hyacinth.
Each flower produces a pod containing four to six beans. The plant does not seem to lose production when pods are left to go to seed, as happens with some green beans.
In wet weather it is worth harvesting the dried beans as soon as the pods have shrivelled and look light brown. Left on the bush for too long in rainy weather, the bean seeds will turn mouldy. If they are picked at the right time, the beans will not need any further drying and can be stored in a clean moisture-less jar on a dry day.
In arid regions, beans are stored in cotton bags and are expected to last for a number of years if they are not eaten by weevils. To kill weevils, the beans should be frozen in a jar for forty eight hours after they are completely dried .