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General description and special characteristics – Sword bean is known chiefly as a cultivated species and may have been derived by selection from Canavalia virosa, a wild species occurring principally in Africa. It is cultivated widely in South and Southeast Asia, especially in India, Sri Lanka, and Burma. Sword bean is a minor vegetable, now spread throughout the humid tropics, but grown chiefly for local consumption.

Variety – Mae Jo: a prolific local variety. Can grow up to 2 m (6 ft). Primarily used as a green manure/cover crop.