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Canavalia rosea (Sw.) DC.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Canavalia apiculata, Canavalia arenicola, Canavalia baueriana, Canavalia emarginata, Canavalia maritima
Common Name: Bay Bean, Beach Bean, Seaside Bean, Coastal Jackbean, MacKenzie Bean, Greater Sea Bean, 海刀豆
Full Sun Little Water Moderate Water Native to Singapore Fruit or Vegetable Coastal Plant Suitable for Rooftops Fragrant Plant Ornamental Flowers Ornamental Leaves Drought Tolerant Climber, Vine and Liana


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Climber, Vine & Liana
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Plant Shape Irregular


Native Distribution Tropical coastal areas
Native Habitat Shoreline (Sandy Beach)
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical
Local Conservation Status Native to Singapore (Least Concern (LC))

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a trailing, twining, slightly hairy, non-woody plant.
Foliage Its alternate, stalked leaves are trifoliolate (bearing 3 leaflets). Its stalked leaflets have somewhat fleshy leaf blades that are broad or rounded, 5–14 by 4.5–10 cm, and with shortly-pointed or notched tips.
Stems The thick stem can grow to more than 2.5 cm in diameter.
Flowers Its flowering shoot is about 30 cm long and found at the leaf axils. Its purple flowers are sweetly-scented and notched at the tips.
Fruits Its fruits are dry, dehiscent pods (legumes), linear-oblong, 6–15 by 1.5–3 cm, and contain many dark brown seeds.
Habitat It grows along sandy seashores. It occurs locally in Pasir Laba Camp and Pulau Ubin (Chek Jawa).
Associated Fauna Its flowers are insect-pollinated.
Cultivation This drought and salt tolerant species is ideal for sunny locations with nutrient poor, but well-drained soils.  It has a fast growth rate, so it needs to be restrained by pruning. It can be propagated by seed.
Etymology Latin canavalia, after the Malabar vernacular name, kanavali, for these climbing herbs or sub-shrubs; Latin rosea, rose-like, possibly referring to the pink flowers.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits, Edible Flowers, Edible Seeds)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : In northern Australia, the seeds and immature pods are used as food. Mature seeds are roasted or boiled before consumption. The flowers are edible.)
[Others]: In many countries, this species is used to prevent soil erosion.

Landscaping Features

Landscaping It may be suitable for parks and the skyrise greening in buildings.
Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Foliage, Fragrant (Flowers)
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought, Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Saline Soils / Salt Spray, Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Small Gardens, Coastal, Beachfront / Shoreline, Green Roof, Groundcover

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)
Seed or Spore Dispersal Abiotic

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Little Water
Plant Growth Rate Fast
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Propagation Method Seed


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Foliar Type Compound (Trifoliate)
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Orbicular / Round)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire
Foliar Apex - Tip Retuse

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Bisexual Flowers
Flower Colour(s) Pink
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary
Individual Flower Shape Papilionaceous / Pea-shaped
Inflorescence Type Spike
Flowering Period Free-Flowering

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Brown
Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Legume / Pod
Mature Seed Colour(s) Brown

Image Repository



Master ID 30828
Species ID 5184
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 10 August 2022.