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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Vigna

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

About 160 species, widespread in tropical regions, with 20 species native to southern Africa, one species is naturalised, and a further three species are cultivated in the region.

Species native to southern Africa

List from Plants of southern Africa - an online checklist (SANBI), Flora of Zimbabwe and Flora of Mozambique.

Vigna antunesii

Recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. 

Vigna friesiorum


Vigna frutescens

Vigna gazensis

Vigna juncea

Recorded from Zimbabwe.


Vigna kokii


Vigna luteola


Vigna marina


Vigna monophylla


Vigna mudenia


Vigna nyangensis

Recorded from Zimbabwe.


Vigna oblongifolia


Vigna pygmaea


Vigna radiata

Recorded from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.


Vigna radicans

Recorded from Zimbabwe.


Vigna reticulata

Recorded from Zimbabwe.


Vigna scabrida


Vigna schlechteri

[= Vigna nervosa]


Vigna unguiculata (Cowpea, Asparagus bean, Yard-long bean)

Native to Africa, including southern Africa. It is an important commercial crop in Africa and is also grown as a subsistence crop. Besides the seeds, the leaves and young pods are also eaten and are considered nutritious.

Vigna vexillata

[= Vigna lobatifolia]

See Flora of Zimbabwe, where it split into two variations - var. vexillata and var. angustifolia.

 Species naturalised in southern Africa

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

Vigna comosa


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

Vigna caracalla (Snail vine, Snail flower)

Native to tropical South America.


Vigna radiata (Mung bean)

Mung beans originate from India and India remains a leading producer of this legume. Most mung beans are olive green in colour but they can also be yellow, brown, or mottled black. They are an excellent source of folic acid and a good source of magnesium, phosphorus and thiamin. Mung beans are an important food in rural areas of southern Africa, where the dry bean seeds are used or the beans themselves are eaten as a vegetable.

Vigna subterranea (Jugo bean, Bambara groundnut, African groundnut)