Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website


Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.) DC.

Family Name: Fabaceae (Leguminosae)
Synonyms: Canavalia foureiri, Canavalia gladiolata, Canavalia incurva, Canavalia loureirii, Canavalia machaeroides, Canavalia maxima, Canavalia plagiosperma
Common Name: Sword Bean, 刀豆
Full Sun Semi Shade Moderate Water Fruit or Vegetable Climber, Vine and Liana


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
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


Native Distribution Southern Asia, Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal
Local Conservation Status Exotic

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a climbing herbaceous plant that can grow up to 10 m long under optimal condition.
Stems Its compound leaves have 3 ovate leaflets.
Flowers Its inflorescence is a raceme, consisting of 10 -20 flowers which are white or light purple. The individual flower measures about 3 cm long.
Fruits Its fruit are pods, sward-shaped, and grow about 20 - 35 cm long and 3 - 6 cm wide. Each pod contains many reddish seeds.
Cultivation Sword bean is cultivated widely in South and Southeast Asia, spread throughout the humid tropics, grown mainly for local consumption. It prefer full sun and humid environment. It tolerant of some shade and wide range of rainfall conditions.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Seeds)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : Young leaves, pods and stems can be eaten fresh, steamed or boiled. Mature or dried seeds(sword beans) contain toxic protein, hence they are usually boiled in two or three changes of water, and the tough seed coats are removed. They are considered an essential food for pregnant women in India.)
Medicinal ( Researches found out that the sword beans have antioxidant properties.)

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Fruits
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden
Usage Hazard - Cons Toxic Upon Ingestion

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Biotic (Fauna)

Plant Care and Propagation

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


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Papery
Foliar Type Compound (Trifoliate)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Purple, White
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) - Angiosperms and Gymnosperms Green
Fruit Type 1 Fleshy Fruit
Mature Seed Colour(s) Red

Image Repository



Master ID 30531
Species ID 5203
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.