The velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens) is a fast-growing leguminous tropical vine, the seeds of which are used as an aphrodisiac.
The climbing plant can reach a height of about 3 meters. It has leaves about 45 cm long, divided into 3 ovoid, pointed leaflets. From the clusters of white or purple butterfly flowers grow up to 9 cm long and 2 cm wide large flat bean-like pods. The pods contain 3 to 6 black, white or (yellow) brown seeds about 1 cm long. Some pods are covered with long red orange-ish irritating hairs. In addition to the hairs of the pods, the root and in particular the seeds are useful. Other pods are covered with velvet downy hairs, hence the name velvet bean.
In mucuna pruriens, the substance levodopa has been found in varying amounts. Because this agent is the foundation of Parkinson’s disease treatment today, mucuna pruriens is heralded for use in this disease. Furthermore, mucuna pruriens is used as a testosterone booster.