Giant jack bean (Canavalia ensiformis)

Bean, Jack—Canavalia ensiformis (L.) Bean, Sword—Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.)-- The jack bean and the sword bean are very similar and are occasionally grown in home gardens around the state. Other names for them are Chickasaw lima bean, Brazilian broad bean, coffee bean, ensiform bean, horse bean, mole bean, go-ta-ki, overlook bean, Pearson bean, watanka, and raba de burro.

It appears that the jack bean plant is bushy in comparison with the vining nature of the sword bean plant. One north Florida gardener noted that one sword bean plant covered his entire garden of 400 square feet.

Both are reported to be edible in the young, tender, immature stage when the pods are sliced and boiled or peeled so the seeds can be used as broad beans. Also, reports have indicated the possibility of mild toxicity of beans when eaten in large quantities. Because of this, the boiling water should be drained off to remove any poisonous substances coming from the beans.


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