Scientific name: Lablab purpureus
Common names: Dolichos bean, Lablab bean, Hyacinth bean, Poor man’s bean
Varieties: Highworth (black seed) and Rongai (brown seed)
Seeding rate: 1.5 – 3 g/m² (15 – 30 kg/ha)
Growth cycle: Annual to short-lived
Growth season: Warm season
Dolichos bean is an annual or short-lived perennial tropical legume. Its large seed ensures easy establishment and it grows well into autumn. The thick trailing stems can reach 3 – 6 meters in length. Leaves are trifoliate and hairy on the underside. The flowers are white, purplish or blue. Pods are smooth and scimitar-shaped with a deep lavender–purple colour. The seeds are white, brown, red or black depending on the cultivar. It is native to Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Dolichos bean is used for forage, hay, silage, green manure, cut-and-carry feeding systems and as a cover crop. It combines well with annual grass crops such as sorghum and maize. Previous scientific names include Dolichos lablab and Dolichos purpureus.