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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Canavalia ensiformis (Jack bean)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Fabales > Family: Fabaceae > Subfamily: Papilionoideae > Genus: Canavalia

Jack bean is a creeper that is cultivated in some rural regions of southern Africa. In order to make the seeds palatable, they need to be well-cooked and the seed coat removed. Seeds are also ground up and used as a coffee substitute.

species native to southern Africa

List from Plants of southern Africa (POSA) - an online checklist (SANBI).

Canavalia bonariensis


Canavalia ensiformis


Canavalia gladiata


Canavalia rosea


Canavalia virosa



  • van Wyk, B.-E. & Gericke, N. 2000. People's Plants. A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.