Herbs & Plants

Entada phaseoloides

Botanical Name: Entada phaseoloides
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fabales
Genus: Entada
Species: E. phaseoloides

Synonyms: Acacia scandens Willd. Entada rumphii Scheff. Entada scandens Benth. Entada tonkinensis Gagnep.

Common Names: Box bean or St. Thomas’ bean

Entada phaseoloides is native to E. Asia – southern China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines to the Pacific Islands.
I(t grows on freshwater swamp and inland from the mangrove up to montane forest, at elevations up to 900 metres, occasionally to 1,700 metres.

Entada phaseoloides is an evergreen Climber growing to 30 m (98ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
The leaf structure is bi-pinnate compound divided into one to two pairs of leaflets. Leaflets are somewhat elliptical, between 25 and 100 mm (0.98 and 3.94 in) long and 10 to 60 mm (0.39 to 2.36 in) wide. Flowers are arranged in a raceme with green to red coloured sepals and green / cream petals that are between 2–3.5 mm (0.079–0.138 in) long. The characteristic pods can grow very large, up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) long and 130 mm (5.1 in) wide. Each pod contains between 10 and 20 reddish brown seeds that are lens-shaped and about 40 to 60 mm (1.6 to 2.4 in) in diameter.


A plant of tropical and subtropical areas. So long as it is not cut too close to the ground, the plant can resprout even from quite old wood. It is usually cut back every three years when being grown for the saponins in its stems. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Through seeds – it has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing to speed up germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 – 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen – if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing. Layering.

Edible Uses:
The soaked and roasted seeds are eaten. Although poisonous raw, the seeds can be rendered edible by prolonged soaking and roasting. The seeds are edible cooked. They are eaten after roasting, baking, grinding, and immersing in running water for 10-12 hours. They contain two saponins. The leaves are eaten both raw and cooked. The dark brown seeds are 4 – 6cm in diameter. The roasted seeds have been used as a coffee substitute. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Young leaves are eaten as vegetable. A sap exuding from the cut branches is used as a drink.

Medicinal Uses:
The juice of the stem is drunk to relieve rheumatic joint and muscle pains, and to treat respiratory ailments. A decoction of the stem is drunk for the treatment of hernia, fish poisoning and gonorrhoea. The saponin content of the stems make them useful as a wash to treat a range of skin disorders. The juice of the roots is given for ulcers, abdominal muscle spasms and headaches. The fruits are regarded as a contraceptive. The kernels of the seeds are mashed and used for poultices for children having colic.

Other Uses:
A fatty oil is obtained from the seed. It is used as a fuel and for an illuminant oil in lamps. The large seeds are used as beads in necklaces etc. Cut in half, the empty seed-coats can be used to make leg-rattles for dancers. The seeds are also used in games, as baby teethers, and as match boxes. The hollowed out seeds have also been used to make snuff boxes. Fibres from the bark are manufactured into ropes, sails and nets. The whole plant is rich in saponins and is used for washing the hair, as a detergent etc. The vine is cut into lengths of about 50 – 100cm and then pounded into thin, flat strips, the width of which depends on the diameter of the piece treated. These strips are then dried. When soaked in water and rubbed, the strips produce a lather which cleanses the scalp very effectively. The bark is a source of tannin.

Known Hazards: The plant is poisonous. The seeds and bark have been used in many countries as a fish poison.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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