Lablab Bean is capable of growing in a wide range of climatic conditions and soil types, depending upon the variety chosen. It is widely cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics and occurs wild in tropical Africa (including Madagascar) and India. The palatability of Lablab Bean surpasses that of velvet beans or jack beans.
Africa and Madagascar
This bean may be grown as a vegetable or pulse for human consumption, or as animal forage or feed. The young pods, leaves and flowers are eaten as a cooked vegetable. The cooked, dried seeds, a good source of protein, are processed into bean cakes, fermented as tempeh or before cooking, sprouted and eaten fresh. Seed sprouts can be eaten like those from mung beans. Lablab Bean plants may be grazed by cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats. Young dried plant material may be used as animal feed. Lablab Bean green material also can be made into silage. Lablab Bean varieties such as Highworth, Rongai, and White have been used successfully as cover crops to suppress weed growth and retard soil erosion and as a green manure. Lablab Bean retains some green growth during droughts affording farmers harvest materials to supplant a lack of grazing opportunities during dry seasons. In Honduras, Lablab Bean has been intercropped successfully with maize (corn) providing sources of both vegetable food and animal feed especially during periods of drought. In the Sudan it has been interplanted with both sorghum and maize.
- Elevation: 0-2400 m (7875 ft)
- Rainfall: 750–2500 mm/year (30-100 in); once established, is quite drought tolerant
- Soil Types: grows in a variety of soils
- Temperature: 22–35° C (70-95o F) Light frost damages the leaves but does not kill the plants.
- Light: partial to full sun If interplanted with corn under favorable growing conditions, delay planting the Lablab Bean as it will cover the corn plants, retarding corn growth and production. In pure stands, plant Lablab Beans 10-20 in (30-50 cm) apart with 30-50 in (80-120 cm) between rows to allow plenty of room for the spreading vines to grow. Lablab Bean can also be grown on a trellis, planted closer together.
Harvesting and Seed Production
When planted early in the growing season, Lablab Beans start bearing pods in 60-70 days and continue for 90-100 days. For use as a pulse or to save seed for the following year, the lablab seed should be allowed to mature approximately 150-210 days after planting.
Pests and Diseases
The effects of a bacterial blight disease (Xanthomonas phaseoli) that in humid weather conditions cause severe defoliation is lessened by growing Lablab Bean intermixed with another bean species, Phaseolus trilobus. The agent of anthracnose, Colletotrichum lindemuthianum, may cause crop damage in India. Pod boring larvae are reported pests in India. Strain HE-111 of Bacillus cereus var. thuringensis has been reported as an effective agent against some of the pod-boring larvae. In Puerto Rico, the bean leaf beetle, Ceratoma ruficornis, is reported as a serious pest. Bruchid beetle larvae, Callosobruchus spp. attack seeds in storage and in the field.
Cooking and Nutrition
Although the ‘Red’ and ‘White’ varieties reportedly are safely eaten as green pods, the mature seeds of Lablab Beans generally are sources of trypsin inhibitor and cyanogenic glucoside toxins and these seeds need to be cooked thoroughly before eating them. Dry Lablab Beans generally can be substituted for other dry beans in recipes. Lablab Beans are good sources of the amino acid, lysine, and as such complement the generally low lysine content of maize (corn) diets. Lablab Beans contain 20-28% crude protein. The green pods likewise are a good protein source as well as a valuable source of fiber.
Heuzé V., Tran G., Sauvant D., Renaudeau D., Bastianelli D., Lebas F., 2016. Lablab (Lablab purpureus). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/297 Last updated on February 19, 2016, 11:25