Canavalia gladiata a large, annual climber, widely cultivated nearly throughout the East, attain a height of 6feet. It has not been found so far in a wild state in India, but it is supposed to have originated, probably from C. virosa Wight & Arn., a wild climber extending from W. Africa to Philippines (Piper & Dunn, Kew Bull., 1922, 134). It exhibits some variations under cultivation, particularly in the length of pods and number of seeds (Haines, III, 278). It is grown mostly near houses and hedges of fields and left to trail on walls and trees.
It is generally twining in habit, but semi-erect varieties are known. It grows vigorously and bears large white or pinkish flowers and large sword shaped pods, 8-12 in. long and 1.0 - 1.5in broad. The pods are more curved and have more strongly developed ridges than those of C. ensiformis. The seeds are rose or pink in colour, but occasionally greyish or white. They are strongly compressed and have a hilum nearly as long as the seed. The fruits are eaten as a vegetable in Africa and Asia. It is also grown as ornamental plant. Propagation is done from seeds.