Woody vine with compound leaves and clusters of pea-type flowers. Huge, flat brown seed pods, containing black glossy seeds, grow to 5 ft (1.5 m) in length, making them the largest-growing legumes in the world.
Habitat & Cultivation
Matchbox bean is native to Australia and tropical regions of Asia and Africa. The seeds are collected when the pods are ripe.
Matchbox bean contains significant amounts of saponins.
History & Folklore
The young leaves and roasted bean are eaten as vegetables, whereas fiber from the stems is made into nets, ropes, and sails. Due to the plant’s high saponin content, it is used as a shampoo.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Australian Aborigines use the seeds to treat female sterility and indigestion, and as a painkiller. In the Philippines, juice made from the bark is used to treat conjunctivitis.