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Mucuna is a genus of around 100 accepted species of climbing lianas (vines) and shrubs of the family Fabaceae: tribe Phaseoleae, typically found in tropical forests.

The leaves are trifoliolate, alternate, or spiraled, and the flowers are pea-like but larger, with distinctive curved petals, and occurring in racemes. Like other legumes, Mucuna plants bear pods. They are generally bat-pollinated and produce seeds that are buoyant sea-beans. These have a characteristic three-layered appearance, appearing like the eyes of a large mammal in some species and like a hamburger in others (most notably M. sloanei) and giving rise to common names like deer-eye beans, donkey-eye beans, ox-eye beans, or hamburger seed.

The name of the genus is derived from mucunã, a Tupi–Guarani word for these species.[2]


Some Mucuna species are used as food plants by caterpillars of Lepidoptera. These include Morpho butterflies and the two-barred flasher (Astraptes fulgerator), which is sometimes found on M. holtonii and perhaps others. The plant pathogenic fungus Mycosphaerella mucunae is named for being first discovered on Mucuna.
Mucuna poggei pods
Mucuna birdwoodiana in Hong Kong

The pods of some species are covered in coarse hairs that contain the proteolytic enzyme mucunain and cause itchy blisters when they come in contact with skin; specific epithets such as pruriens (Latin: "itching") or urens (Latinized Ancient Greek: "stinging like a nettle") refer to this. Other parts of the plant have medicinal properties. The plants or their extracts are sold in herbalism against a range of conditions, such as urinary tract, neurological, and menstruation disorders, constipation, edema, fevers, tuberculosis, and helminthiases such as elephantiasis.[3] In an experiment to test if M. pruriens might have an effect on the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, Katzenschlager et al. found that a seed powder had a comparable, if not more favourable, effect as commercial formulations of L-dopa, although the trial only consisted of four people per test group.[4]

M. pruriens was found to increase phosphorus availability after application of rock phosphate in one Nigerian experiment.[5] M. pruriens was used in Native American milpa agriculture.

Mucuna seeds contain a large number of antinutritional compounds. The most important is L-dopa, which the digestive system of most animals confuses with the amino acid tyrosine, causing the production of defective proteins. Other antinutrients are tannins, lectins, phytic acid, cyanogenic glycosides, and trypsin and amylase inhibitors, although all these can be removed by long cooking.[6] M. pruriens may also contain chemicals such as serotonin, 5-HTP, nicotine, and the hallucinogenic tryptamines 5-MeO-DMT, bufotenine and dimethyltryptamine,[6][7][verification needed] Mucuna is not traditionally consumed as a food crop, but some preliminary experiments have shown that if the antinutrients are removed or at least brought down to safe level, the beans can be fed to livestock or people. The L-dopa content is the most important and difficult toxin to get rid of. The seeds must be extensively processed before they can be safely eaten. Diallo & Berhe found the best method was to crack open the seeds and soak them in constantly running fresh water such as under an open faucet for 36 hours, or to put them in a bag and leave in a flowing river for 72 hours, before cooking them for over an hour. Over a thousand people in the Republic of Guinea were fed a meal of Mucuna (mixed with many other ingredients) with no obvious ill effects.[8]
Mucuna urens parts drawing from Vervolg ob de Avbeeldingen der artseny-gewassen met derzelver Nederduitsche en Latynsche beschryvingen (Adolphus Ypey, 1813)
Mucuna urens habitus
Mucuna urens seed, sometimes called Hamburger bean
Mucuna urens - MHNT

Mucuna adans
Mucuna acuminata
Mucuna amblyodon
Mucuna argyrophylla
Mucuna atropurpurea (Roxb.) DC. ex Wight & Arn.
Mucuna aurea
Mucuna bennettii F.Muell. – red jade vine
Mucuna biplicata
Mucuna birdwoodiana Tutcher
Mucuna bracteata DC. ex Kurz
Mucuna calophylla
Mucuna canaliculata
Mucuna championii
Mucuna coriacea Baker
Mucuna coriacea subsp. coriacea
Mucuna coriacea subsp. irritans (Burtt Davy) Verdc.
Mucuna curranii
Mucuna cyclocarpa
Mucuna diabolica Hayne (disputed)
Mucuna diplax
Mucuna discolor
Mucuna elliptica
Mucuna fawcettii Urb.
Mucuna ferox
Mucuna flagellipes Hook.f.
Mucuna gigantea (Willd.) DC.
Mucuna glabrialata
Mucuna gracilipes
Mucuna hainanensis Hayata
Mucuna hainanensis subsp. hainanensis
Mucuna hainanensis subsp. multilamellata Wilmot-Dear
Mucuna holtonii (Kuntze) Moldenke
Mucuna hooglandii
Mucuna huberi
Mucuna humblotii
Mucuna imbricata DC. ex Baker
Mucuna interrupta
Mucuna killipiana
Mucuna lamellata
Mucuna lamii
Mucuna lane-poolei
Mucuna longipedunculata
Mucuna macmillanii
Mucuna macrobotrys
Mucuna macrocarpa Wall.
Mucuna macroceratides (disputed)
Mucuna macrophylla
Mucuna macropoda
Mucuna manongarivensis
Mucuna mapirensis
Mucuna melanocarpa Hochst. ex A.Rich.
Mucuna membranacea
Mucuna mindorensis
Mucuna mitis (disputed)
Mucuna mollis
Mucuna mollissima Teijsm. & Binn. ex Kurz
Mucuna monosperma DC. ex Wight
Mucuna mutisiana (Kunth) DC.
Mucuna nigricans
Mucuna novo-guineensis Scheff. – New Guinea creeper
Mucuna oligoplax
Mucuna pachycarpa
Mucuna pacifica
Mucuna pallida
Mucuna paniculata
Mucuna platyphylla
Mucuna platyplekta
Mucuna pluricostata (disputed)
Mucuna poggei Taub.
Mucuna poggei var. pesa (De Wild.) Verdc.
Mucuna poggei var. poggei
Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. – velvet bean, cowhage, kapikachu, atmagupta, yerepe (Yoruba), "buffalo bean"
Mucuna pruriens var. hirsuta (Wight & Arn.) Wilmot-Dear
Mucuna pruriens var. pruriens
Mucuna pruriens var. sericophylla (Perkins) Wilmot-Dear
Mucuna pruriens var. utilis (Wall. ex Wight) Baker ex Burck
Mucuna psittacina (disputed)
Mucuna reptans
Mucuna reticulata
Mucuna revoluta
Mucuna rostrata Benth.
Mucuna samarensis
Mucuna sanjappae Aitawade & SR Yadav[9]
Mucuna schlechteri
Mucuna sempervirens Hemsl.
Mucuna sloanei Fawc. & Rendle
Mucuna stanleyi
Mucuna stans Welw. ex Baker
Mucuna stenoplax
Mucuna terrens
Mucuna thailandica
Mucuna tomentosa
Mucuna urens (L.) Medik.
Mucuna warburgii[10][11]

Formerly placed here

Canavalia mattogrossensis (Barb. Rodr.) Malme (as M. mattegrossensis Barb. Rodr.)
Psophocarpus scandens (Endl.) Verdc. (as M. comorensis Vatke)[11]


"Genus: Mucuna Adans". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-10-05. Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2011-02-23.
Quattrocchi, Umberto (2000). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names. Vol. 3 M-Q. CRC Press. p. 1738. ISBN 978-0-8493-2677-6.
Oudhia (2002)
Katzenschlager et al. (2004)
Vanlauwe et al. (2000)
Szabo, N. J. (April 2003). "Indolealkylamines in Mucuna species" (PDF). Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems. 1 (2–3): 295–307.
Erowid (2002): Mucuna pruriens. Created 2002-APR-22. Retrieved 2007-DEC-17
Diallo & Berhe (2003)
Aitawade, Makarand M.; Yadav, S.R. (2012). "Mucuna sanjappae, a new species from the north-Western Ghats, India". Kew Bulletin. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 67 (3): 539–543. doi:10.1007/s12225-012-9369-1. S2CID 46121626.
ILDIS (2005)

"GRIN Species Records of Mucuna". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2011-02-23.

Further reading
Diallo, O.K.; Berhe, T. (2003). "Processing the Mucuna for Human Food in the Republic of Guinea" (PDF). Tropical and Subtropical Agroecosystems. 1 (2/3): 193–196. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-26.
International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS) (2005): Genus Mucuna. Version 10.01, November 2005. Retrieved 2007-DEC-17.
Katzenschlager, R.; Evans, A.; Manson, A.; Patsalos, P.N.; Ratnaraj, N.; Watt, H.; Timmermann, L.; van der Giessen, R.; Lees, A.J. (2004). "Mucuna pruriens in Parkinson's disease: a double blind clinical and pharmacological study". Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. 75 (12): 1672–1677. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2003.028761. PMC 1738871. PMID 15548480.
Oudhia, Pankaj (2002): Kapikachu or Cowhage (Mucuna pruriens) Crop Fact Sheet. Version of 5-9-2002. Retrieved 2007-DEC-17.
Vanlauwe, B.O. (2000). "Nwoke, C.; Diels, J.; Sanginga, N.; Carsky, R.J.; Deckers, J. & Merckx, R. (2000) Utilization of rock phosphate by crops on a representative toposequence in the Northern Guinea savanna zone of Nigeria: response by Mucuna pruriens, Lablab purpureus and maize". Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 32 (14): 2063–2077. doi:10.1016/S0038-0717(00)00149-8.

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