Baybean Canavalia Maritima


Little is presently known about Canavalia maritima, but literature and travelling around the world proved this plant to be of great interest. This plant was traditionally used by Mexican tribes as a potentiator and on its own. Seeds have been found in graves in Oaxaca and Yucatan Mexico and in Peru, in sites dating from 300 B.C. to A.D. 900.

Beach bean is a herbaceous perennial legume with long creeping stems which branch and spread rapidly over the sand surface. It forms dense stands in protected dune locations. Roots are produced at nodes on the stem.

The leaves consist of 3 leaflets. Each leaflet is rounded, up to 75mm long and 60 mm wide, dark green in colour with a network of veins.

The fruit is a thick pod often 15 cm long and 2.5 cm wide. Each pod contains 4-9 large greenish brown to dark brown seeds. When the pod is ripe it bursts and releases the seed.

The genus Canavalia is a member of the legume family and as such is equipped to “fix” nitrogen from the atmosphere. Micro-organisms in the root nodules convert nitrogen from the air into a form that plants can use. This process improves the nitrogen content of these otherwise deficient dune sands.