Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.) DC.

Last updated: 24 April 2015

Scientific Name

Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.) DC.


Canavalia ensiformis "sensu Baker, p.p." [Misapplied], Canavalia ensiformis sensu auct. [Misapplied], Canavalia foureiri G.Don, Canavalia gladiolata J.D.Sauer, Canavalia incurva (Thunb.) DC., Canavalia incurva Thouars, Canavalia loureirii G.Don, Canavalia lunareti Carriere, Canavalia machaeroides (DC.) Steud., Canavalia maxima Thouars, Dolichos incurvus Thunb., Malocchia gladiata (Jacq.) Savi [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kacang parang, kacang polong [2], kacang hantu, kacang polong [3]
English Sword bean [2], giant stock-bean, gotani-bean, horsebean, jack-bean, seasidebean, sword-bean, wonder bean [3]
China Dao dou , xie jian dou, da dao du, guan dao du [3]
Indonesia Kara pedang, kacang parasman, koas bakol [2], kara wedung, kacang nyonya, kacang prasman, kradang, koas, bebedongan,kara bedog, koas prasman [3]
Thailand Thua-phra [2][3]
Laos (khùa) 'khao 'khièo [2]
Myanmar Habas (Tagalog); magtambokau (Bisaya) [2]
Cambodia Tioeuhs [2]
Vietnam D[aaj]u r[uwj]a [2]
France Pois sabre [2]

Geographical Distributions

Canavalia gladiata is of Asiatic or African origin. It is only known in cultivation andprobably derived from C.  virosa (Roxb.) Wight & Arnott, the most closely related wild species, occurring mainly in Africa. C. gladiata is widely cultivated in South and Southeast Asia, especially in India, Sri Lanka, Burma and Indo-China. It has now spread throughout the tropics and has become naturalised in some areas. [2]

Botanical Description

C. gladiata comes from the family of Leguminosae. It is a vigorous, woody and perennial climber. It can grow measuring 3-10 m long and often grown as an annual. [2]

The leaves are trifoliolate, measuring 5-17 cm long petiole and with measure 4-7 mm petiolules. The leaflets are ovate in shape, measuring 7.5-20 cm x 5-14 cm, acuminate and sparsely pubescent on the both surfaces. [2]

The inflorescence is an axillary raceme, measure 7-12 cm long, measuring 4-20 cm long peduncle and with measure 2 mm long pedicels. The flowers are often reflexed. The sepal is measure up to 16 mm long. The white petal is measure about 3.5 cm long. [2]

The fruit is a legume, linear-oblong in shape, slightly compressed and with a size of measuring 15-40 cm x 2.5-5 cm. It is widest near the apex, sometimes curved with strongly developed ridges and contains 8-16 seeds. [2]

The seeds are oblong-ellipsoid in shape, strongly compressed, measuring 2-3.5 cm x 1.5-2 cm, pink, red, reddish-brown to almost black and rarely white in colour. The dark brown hilum is measure 1.5-2 cm long. The seed-coat is very tough and thick. [2]

The root system is deeply penetrates the soil. [2]


C. gladiata requires a tropical climate. It grows well at temperatures of 20-30°C and is cultivated from sea-level up to 1000 m altitude. Its deep root system allows sword bean to survive dry conditions, but it fares best with an evenly distributed rainfall of 900-1500 mm/year. It grows well on the very leached, nutrient-depleted, lowland tropical soils and on acid soils with a pH of 4.5-7.0. It is more resistant to saline soils and less affected by waterlogging or drought than many other legumes. It also tolerates some shade. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation

Plant Part Used

No documentation

Traditional Use

No documentation

Preclinical Data

No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of C. gladiata (Jacq.) DC. [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.) DC.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2010 Jul 18; cited 2015 Apr 23]. Available from:
  2. Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.) DC. In: Siemonsma JS, Piluek K, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 8. Vegetables. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publishers; 1993.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. Volume 1. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p.141.