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Common names 

Velvet bean, Mauritius velvet bean, Bengal bean, Florida velvet bean, Yokohama velvet bean, cowage, cowhage, cowitch, lacuna bean, Lyon bean, itchy bean, krame, buffalobean, pica-pica, kapikachhu [English]; pois mascate, dolic, haricot de Floride, haricot de Maurice, pois velus, haricot pourpre, pois du Bengale [French]; grano de terciopelo, fríjol terciopelo, picapica, chiporro, nescafe, mucuna, fogaraté, café incasa, café listo, fríjol abono [Spanish]; feijão-da-flórida, po de mico, fava coceira [Portuguese]; fluweelboon [Dutch]; Juckbohne [German]; pwa grate [Haitian creole]; Kara benguk [Indonesian]; đậu mèo rừng, móc mèo [Vietnamese]; আলকুশি [Bengali]; ခွေးလှေယားပင် [Burmese]; 刺毛黧豆 [Chinese]; किवांच [Hindi]; ハッショウマメ [Japanese]; നായ്ക്കുരണ [Malayalam]; काउसो [Nepali]; مکونا پرورینز [Persian]; ਕੌਂਚ ਫਲੀ [Punjabi]; Мукуна жгучая [Russian]; దూలగొండి [Telugu]; หมามุ้ย [Thai]


Velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. var. utilis (Wall. ex Wight) Baker ex Burck) is a leguminous vine. It is annual or sometimes short-lived perennial. Velvet bean is vigorous, trailing or climbing, up to 6-18 m long (US Forest Service, 2011Wulijarni-Soetjipto et al., 1997). It has a taproot with numerous, 7-10 m long, lateral roots. The stems are slender and slightly pubescent (Wulijarni-Soetjipto et al., 1997). The leaves are generally slightly pubescent, alternate, trifoliolate with rhomboid ovate, 5-15 cm long x 3-12 cm broad, leaflets (US Forest Service, 2011Wulijarni-Soetjipto et al., 1997). The inflorescence is a drooping axillary raceme that bears many white to dark purple flowers. After flower pollination, velvet bean produces clusters of 10 to 14 pods. They are stout, curved, 10-12.5 cm long, with between two and six seeds, covered with greyish-white or orange hairs that may cause irritation to the skin (US Forest Service, 2011). The velvet bean seeds are variable in colour, ranging from glossy black to white or brownish with black mottling. Seeds are oblong ellipsoid, 1.2 to 1.5 cm long, 1 cm broad and 0.5 cm thick (FAO, 2011US Forest Service, 2011Wulijarni-Soetjipto et al., 1997).