Botanical name: Phaseolus lunatus Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Phaseolus rosei, Phaseolus viridis, Phaseolus limensis
Lima Bean is a perennial twining vine or herbaceous bush, usually grown as annuals. Some of them can climb more than 12 ft up a trellis or bean teepee, while some of the bush types stay under 2 ft tall. The leaves have three leaflets, each 5-12.7 cm long. The flowers are white, pale green or rose-violet and quite small, usually less than 2.5 cm in length. Depending on cultivar, the pods can be 5-15 cm long and an inch or so wide. There are more than a hundred named lima bean cultivars. Lima beans came originally from Central and South America. Today they are cultivated in warm temperate, subtropical and tropical environments throughout the world and are the main food legume in tropical Africa.
Medicinal uses: The plant has many medicinal uses. In Senegal and the Democratic republic of Congo the juice from the leaves is used in nasal instillations against headache and as eardrops. In Nigeria the seeds are pulverised and rubbed into small cuts or onto tumours and abscesses to encourage the discharge of pus. The seeds and leaves of butter bean are valued in traditional Asian medicine for their astringent properties and they are used as a diet to relieve fever.
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