Jack bean (Canavalia ensiformis ) is a climbing perennial legume commonly cultivated as an annual. It grows up to 2 m high with 8-20 cm long trifoliate leaves and a strong root system. Flowers are pink, mauve or white with a red base. Pods are up to 36 cm long and contain 1-2 cm long, ellipsoid seeds. Pods and seeds are edible and used for food, the young pods being cooked as a vegetable. The whole plant, the pods and seeds are also used to feed animals.

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Jack beans, also called wonder beans, generally require more water than desert-adapted tepary beans. However, once established the incredibly deep tap-root allows them to be drought resistant. This is an important characteristic because they require a long growing season of 150 days or more.

They are also somewhat day-length sensitive with flowering triggered late in the summer. As with other types of beans, Canavalia are frost sensitive but have been documented to grow as semi-perennial bushes. The flowers of this species are gorgeous and resemble their distant cousins in the Phaseolus genus. The plants produce large vines and easily produce upwards of 50 pods per plant.

The enormous pods reach over a foot in length and can be eaten like a green bean when young, only a few inches long. Dried beans are mildly toxic and should not be eaten raw or in large quantities. They should be rinsed thoroughly.

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