Phaseolus lunatus L.

Last updated: 30 Jul 2015

Scientific Name

Phaseolus lunatus L. 


Dolichos tonkinensis Bui-Quang-Chieu, Phaseolus bipunctatus Jacq., Phaseolus ilocanus Blanco, Phaseolus inamoenus L., Phaseolus limensis Macfad., Phaseolus portoricensis Spreng., Phaseolus puberulus Kunth, Phaseolus rosei Piper, Phaseolus saccharatus Macfad., Phaseolus tunkinensis Lour., Phaseolus vexillatus "sensu Blanco, non L.", Phaseolus viridis Piper, Phaseolus vulgaris "sensu Blanco, non L.", Phaseolus xuaresii Zuccagni , Phaseolus macrocarpus Moench [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kacang china, kacang jawa, kekara kratok [2], kachang china, kachang serendeng [3], kacang serendeng [4]
English Lima bean, butter bean, Madagascar bean [2], duffin bean, sieve bean [4]
India Aksipidaka, bakla, bonchi, bonchi-kai, dabbale, dambala, dara-dambala, kaci-k-kollu, kaisam bali-patti, kalandri, loba, lobia, pothu-dambala, potu-bonchi, rajmah, sem, vilayti sem [3]
Indonesia Java bean, kratok [2][3], kara, kekara, kacang mas, roway [4]
Thailand Thua rachamat [2]
Laos Burma bean, white Burma [2]
Philippines Sibatse simaron, patáni, zabache [2], bulai-patani, buni, buringi, butingi, gulipatan, haba, habichuela, kilkilang, kopani, kutakut, palpadi, parda, patani, perkoles, puida, sibatse simaron, zabachein Thailand, thua rachamat [3]
Vietnam Dâu ngu [2][3]
Japan Aoi-mame [3]
Africa Haricot de madagaascar, kabaro, kalamaka,konoka, maimbolany (Madagascar); eree, awuje, ewa, ewe, popondo, kokondo, sese, ewe (Yoruba); chinkamba (Zambia) [3]
France Haricot de Lima, pois du Cap, fève créole [2].

Geographical Distributions

Phaseolus lunatus has a neotropical origin with at least two centres of domestication which are Central America (Mexico, Guatemala) for the small-seeded forms and South America (mainly Peru) for the large-seeded forms. In post-Columbian times, it spread throughout America. Spaniards brought seeds across the Pacific to the Philippines and from there to Asia, mainly Java and Burma, and to Mauritius. The slave trade took them from Brazil to Africa, particularly in the western and central parts. Some large-seeded forms from the Peruvian coast were distributed to South-Western Madagascar and Southern California. [2]

P. lunatus is grown in the lowland tropical and subtropical areas but may climb to 2000-2500 m altitudes. It is now cultivated throughout the warmer parts of the world. [2]

Botanical Description

P. lunatus is a member of the Leguminosae family. It is an annual or occasionally perennial herb, bushy forms that can reach up to 0.6 m tall while 2-4 m tall in climbing forms. [2]

The leaves are trifoliolate. The leaflets are ovate, acuminate and measuring 5-19 cm x 3-11 cm. [2]

The inflorescences are axillary racemes, measure up to 15 cm long, with many nodes and flowers. The bracteoles are persistent. The sepal is bell-shaped while the petal is 0.7-1.0 cm wide. The standard is hood-shaped and pale green or violet. The wings are white or violet. The keel is sharply upturned, white or occasionally pigmented. There are 10 stamens, which are diadelphous. The style is coiled with the apical region pubescent. The stigma is ellipsoid and adaxially directed. [2]

The pods are oblong, measuring 5-12 cm x 2.5 cm, generally curved, sometimes with a hook-shaped top and with 2-4-seeded. [2]

The seeds are variable in size, shape and colour, kidney-shaped, rhomboid or round. The colour is uniform or speckled or mottled, white, green, yellow, brown, red, black or purple. There are often transverse lines radiate out from the hilum. [2]

The roots are thin or swollen and measure up to 1.5-2 m deep. [2]

The seedlings are with epigeal germination where the first leaves are simple and opposite. [2]


P. lunatus contains day-neutral genotypes which flower in day lengths of 9-18 hours and short-day types which require critical day length of 11-12.3 hours for flower initiation. The optimum temperatures range from 16 to 27 °C and they do not tolerate frost. The normal annual rainfall is 900-1500 mm but the crop tolerates as little as 500-600 mm once established. It prefers well-aerated and well-drained soils with a pH of 6.0-6.8. However, some cultivars tolerate acid soils with pH as low as 4.4. [2]

Chemical Constituent

No documentation.

Plant Part Used

No documentation.

Traditional Use

No documentation.

Preclinical Data

No documentation.

Clinical Data

No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing


Figure 1: The line drawing of P. lunatus [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver 1.1. Phaseolus lunatus L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Apr 18; cited 2015 Jul 28]. Available from:
  2. Baudoin JP. Phaseolus lunatus L. In: van der Maesen LJG, Somaatmadja S, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 1: Pulses. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc, 1989; p. 57-60.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press; 2012. p. 513.
  4. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR; 2002. p. 214.