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Velvet Bean - Plant

Note: The image is for reference purpose. Actual plant height will be 0.5 to 3ft.
Velvet bean is a vigorously growing and trailing legume species that is capable of fixing atmospheric nitrogen which improves the soil fertility and benefits crops grown after it.
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Velvet bean is a minor leguminous crop, many cultivars of which are suitable for the more humid regions of the tropics, while others, e.g. the Mauritius velvet bean, are suitable for dryland farming. They can be grown successfully on soils unsuitable for cowpeas, but have the disadvantage of a longer growth period and are more difficult to thresh.

Moreover, the seed is not highly valued for human or animal feeding, because of the prolonged soaking and, or, boiling required before it can be consumed safely. The leaves and vines make an excellent fodder.

Common name: Mucuna
Height: 15-30 feet.

Planting & Care
The Velvet Bean produces little seed unless they are grown with an upright crop like corn so the vines can climb and bear their flowers where there is air circulation. This also avoids pod decay. Velvet Beans yield about 1,000 pounds of beans per acre.

Sunlight: Sunny

Soil: A wide range of soil types are suitable, including heavy clays, provided that they are well drained, since velvet beans cannot stand waterlogging with a pH of between 5-6.5.

Water: Velvet beans are often grown in the tropics and subtropics in areas with an average rainfall of between 1200-1500 mm/yr., or more.

Temprature: A warm equable temperature of 20-30°C throughout the growing period is preferred.

Fertilizer: Fertilize the corn and the Velvet Beans will do just fine.
Medicinal use:
  • The possibility of utilizing velvet beans as a commercial source of L-dopa (which is relatively expensive to produce synthetically), used in the treatment of Parkinsons disease.

Culinary use:
  • Velvet beans can be used as a human foodstuff but require considerable care in their preparation, because of the toxic principle they contain.
  • In many parts of Africa and Asia they are regarded as a famine food.
  • The toxic principle can be removed by boiling and soaking the seeds in several changes of water.
  • In parts of Asia, the seeds are sometimes roasted before being eaten.
  • The immature pods and leaves are occasionally boiled and eaten as a vegetable.

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