The beach bean occurs naturally
worldwide in tropic and sub tropic areas. v The beach bean is a
perennial climbing or trailing herbaceous vine with compound,
3-lobed leaves. The leaflets are commonly 4-10 cm across and fold up
under midday sun. The stems are often stringy and grow up to 3m. The
beach bean also has pink to purple pea flowers, 2-3 cm, with flat,
wooly seed pods, 10-15 cm. Each pod has two distinct ridges on each
side and contains 4-9 large, brown beans.
It should be an excellent ground cover for dry sandy areas. Needless
to say, it is a must-have for seaside gardens. Use beach bean as a
ground cover where you have full sun, poor soil, and drought
conditions. Beach bean is used as a biomass cover crop in Third
World countries and in arid lands in Australia and Africa where its
amazingly rapid growth quickly covers even the harshest soils. It is
used to control soil erosion in many parts of the world. The young
pods and seeds are edible and used for food in northern Australia.
Mature seeds must be boiled or roasted to render them edible.
The genus Canavalia includes the tropical high climbing jackbeans,
grown for food and forage in Africa and Southeast Asia. Beach bean
became an important food for the British explorer, Captain James
Cook and his crew during their voyage around the world from 1768 to