Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Sword Bean
Canavalia gladiata

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Canavalia (kan-uh-VAY-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: gladiata (glad-ee-AY-tuh) (Info)

22 members have or want this plant for trade.

Vines and Climbers

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
20-30 ft. (6-9 m)

Unknown - Tell us

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Blooms repeatedly


Other details:
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost
From seed; germinate in a damp paper towel

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 17 photos.
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7 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive sladeofsky On Jan 23, 2015, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

In Thai cuisine, young shoots, young pods and flowers of the sword bean are served blanched with nam phrik. The sour-tasting leaves are put in tom yam soup or eaten blanched with vermicelli and peanut curry. The young pods can be used in curries or fried.

Positive hymenocallis On Sep 8, 2011, hymenocallis from Auburn, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

I planted Canavalia gladiata this year in May next to a chain link fence and it has grown to about twenty feet and has about twenty of the pods on it and I can't decide to try the pods or not but at least they a conversation starter when others see the pods you can bet on that.
If anyone knows firsthand anything about it's edibility I would appreciate it if you would reply.

Positive kfwickl On May 21, 2009, kfwickl from Seneca, SC wrote:

I first grew this plant from a can found in a GeoCache box in Columbia, SC. I have no idea how long the can had been in the box, but the plant grew within 10 days. It was fun growing the first one, especially when the pod got to be over 7 inches long! I harvested 7 seeds from it and one-by-one those seeds have sprouted into plants this season. They are each in pots. My only problem is that the insects outside my apartment are having a feast of my plants. It has been a struggle trying to keep them from being devoured. I just hope that they will be able to survive well enough to grow pods and produce more seeds for next year!

Positive giftgas On May 5, 2009, giftgas from Everson, WA (Zone 7b) wrote:

I am looking forward to growing this out. I lost my first seedling because the people that control the weather were plotting against me (it froze when it wasn't supposed to).

The seeds germinated quickly and explosively - This would be a great plant to use to teach children about plants and their life cycle.

Positive scott_lumry On Nov 1, 2006, scott_lumry from Natchitoches, LA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Received seed from local green market; was uncertain if it was edible. Planted to do research. Planted at base of dead dogwood tree in July 2006 in full sun. Has done very well, growing to 10 feet. Large heavy bean pods produced rapidly. The 2006 summer was dry and the plant was watered occasionally. Flowered profusely with purple/white flowers and produced an abundant crop of bean pods. At this time (01Nov06) we are allowing the beans to ripen and will harvest dry beans after they dry on the vine.

Research indicates the seeds have been used for a food source in Asian countries, but there are also reports of ill effects of consumption. More research to do here.

Overall, the plant is a good performer in zone 8a in midsummer and would work well as an ornamental or conversational because of its enormous size pods and beautiful flowers. It needs solid support and good sun exposure.

Positive gardeningrace On Sep 2, 2006, gardeningrace from Lexington, SC wrote:

Got this bean as a gift in a can!! As the plant sprouted, the bean itself lifted out of the soil with the words "I love you" imprinted on the cotyledons! Had no idea what kind it was so simply transplanted to the back yard, and found out it looks like Jack-in-the-beanstalk beans -- huge! Fun plant to grow. Hope to collect seeds this fall and give plants out. Flowers are lovely and good sized, too, though this is definitely a bean plant, not a flower plant.

Positive QueenB On Sep 30, 2004, QueenB from Shepherd, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I planted this like any bean plant, and it took off without a hitch. Needs a fence or a strong trellis to support the weight of the vine and seedpods. Seedpods are heavy! The beans can be eaten, but only after special preparation. I haven't tried them myself.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama
Siloam Springs, Arkansas
Jacksonville, Florida
Lithia, Florida
Lynn Haven, Florida
Miami, Florida
Ocala, Florida
Zephyrhills, Florida
Eastanollee, Georgia
Newnan, Georgia
Barbourville, Kentucky
Prospect, Kentucky
Covington, Louisiana
Deridder, Louisiana
Natchitoches, Louisiana
West Monroe, Louisiana
Lexington, South Carolina
Seneca, South Carolina
Johnson City, Tennessee
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Coppell, Texas
Hempstead, Texas
Plano, Texas
Shepherd, Texas

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