Canavalia Species, Sword Bean, Swordbean

Canavalia gladiata

Family: Fabaceae (fab-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Canavalia (kan-uh-VAY-lee-uh) (Info)
Species: gladiata (glad-ee-AY-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Canavalia ensiformis
Synonym:Canavalia gladiata var. spodosperma
Synonym:Canavalia loureirii
Synonym:Canavalia maxima
Synonym:Dolichos gladiatus





Vines and Climbers

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:



Medium Purple

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Blooms repeatedly

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Auburn, Alabama

Siloam Springs, Arkansas

Jacksonville, Florida

Lithia, Florida

Lynn Haven, Florida

Miami, Florida

Ocala, Florida

West Palm Beach, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jan 25, 2016, dserubiri from Kampala,
Uganda wrote:

I am told its good for animal feed. I am going to plant it to reduce my costs for pigs and chicken farming


On Aug 14, 2015, BountifulHealth from San Luis Obispo, CA wrote:

We grew the RED Sword Bean Canavalia gladiata 4 yrs ago! from MAGIC BEAN from my niece's wedding. They were favors! I helped her order them from ASIA!! how long to produce beans?? They did not grow the 1st 2 yrs then after that they TOOK OFF LIKE A WEED!! NO BEANS THOUGH?!! How many yrs does it take to have beans???? My husband wants to chop it down tomorrow!! Please replay ASAP!! Thanks!!! CANNOT FIND ANY INFO ON THIS!!!
Did find yours here:

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 peanu... read more


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.


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.


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!


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.


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 ... read more


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.


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.