Today I came across a legume vine which has climbed on a tree. I noticed the beans clumps hanging from the vine. These are velvety golden colored. The beans are very pleasant looking. But then I remembered my school days when some boys did the prank of touching someone’s skin with the bean shell. It gives a hell lot of itching and pain.
These beans are called Mucuna Pruriens. These have other monikers like Stinging Velvet Beans, Cowitch and Madness Beans. If by chance you come in contact with the velvety part of the beans you will get very sharp itching and pain. Itching is caused by Mucuna which is Protein enzyme.
It is not that these beans are that bad. There are nonstinging varieties also. The stinging varieties are generally found in the wild. The seeds contain high amount of L-DOPA and are used in medicine for snakebite, Parkinson disease due to high amounts of L-DOPA. The beans are also used as aphrodisiac because they are very rich in protein content. The bean plant is a nitrogen fixer thus enhance the natural fertility of the soil.
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