Dolichos purple, or ordinary (Lablab purpureus) Is a very beautiful annual herbaceous vine. It is also known as hyacinth beans, Egyptian beans, lablab, lobia or curly lilac. This is one of the oldest types of beans known to mankind. It has been used for food for so long that the names of this plant in different languages are completely different, because each people considered it their own and called it in their own way in their native language.
Today dolichos is common in many areas of Asia and Africa, where it is a perennial in warm climates. In our country, it is grown as an annual ornamental climbing plant.
Depending on climatic conditions, it grows from 1.5 to 3 meters long and can wrap around a support well. Dolichos has large heart-shaped leaves, their trifoliate shape is similar to the leaves of beans and beans. The leaves, depending on the variety, have a different color: green, purple or red-violet. Fragrant moth flowers are collected in graceful, long, multi-flowered inflorescences that form in the leaf axils. The inflorescence can contain up to 40 flowers. In varietal dolichos, flowers are white, pink, crimson, blue or purple, of different shades, and also two-colored. In our conditions, this plant blooms from early July until frost. The inflorescence is an axillary multi-flowered raceme. Duration of flowering of one flower is about three days, and the whole brush is 20-30 days. The flowers exude a very pleasant aroma. Dolichos flowers are suitable for cutting, they remain in water for a very long time. And when the flowering stops, then a large bunch of dark purple beans appears on the plant, similar from a distance to a grape. Not only the leaves and flowers of the dolichos are decorative, but also the resulting fruits. Inside the beans, the seeds are elliptical, compressed, with a helmet-shaped scar 1-2 cm long, brown, black, or orange in color with a white scar. Flat, curved, with a spout, glossy beans reach 11 cm in length, are green or colored and adorn this plant for a long time at the end of the gardening season. One inflorescence ties 5 to 15 beans.
In autumn, on this liana, you can simultaneously see young green foliage (in the upper part of the plant), and yellowing old leaves, and especially spectacular against their background, colored beans formed at the base of the leaves. At the same time, all new flowers open in the original inflorescences, directed towards the sky.
Nitrogen-fixing bacteria live on the roots of dolichos, which accumulate nitrogen (100 g / 1 sq. M) in the soil, and the green mass is an excellent green manure.
Dolichos is thermophilic and grows well in warm enough places. To plant it, you need to choose a sunny place with loose and sufficiently moist soil. But he does not tolerate acidic and strongly alkaline soils.
Like all climbing plants, dolichos needs supports, to which the stems are tied up and the plant is guided along them.
It is better for northerners to grow dolichos by sowing seeds in peat cubes, large-diameter tablets or in pots filled with fertile soil. Sprouts appear in 8-10 days. And in order for the seedlings to appear earlier, it is better to subject the seeds to scarification, i.e. rub between two sheets of sandpaper.
After the appearance of the fourth leaf, the top of the seedlings is pinched. After that, side shoots grow on the shoots, which form a lush green carpet.
You can sow seeds in cups, after keeping them in water for a day, and after germination, with the onset of stable heat, plant them in open ground, or you can sow them directly into the ground to a depth of 3 cm at a distance of 40-50 cm from each other. The main condition is that the soil must be absolutely warm.
Seedlings are planted in open ground in the third decade of June, when the soil warms up well, at a distance of 50-60 cm from each other and immediately they stretch out supports - strong synthetic cords.
Caring for dolichos does not cause any particular difficulties. It is very sensitive to lack of moisture in the initial period of growth. And after the rows close, it is watered only in case of a long absence of rain. In the process of growth, the plant is fed with a complete mineral fertilizer. And for better development, he needs bright light and warmth, he grows poorly in the shade.
During flowering and fruit formation, for normal growth, the temperature should not fall below + 18 ° C. Therefore, many gardeners prefer to grow dolichos on a balcony or loggia.
Dolichos is not only a very beautiful plant, but also an ancient food culture, quite widespread in the world and especially popular in Indian cuisine. This crop boasts not only a rich herbal bean aroma, but also a balanced protein content. Both ripe dry fruits and fresh green pods are used for food. Dry seeds are also delicious. Dolichos beans taste a little like green beans, but much softer, more tender and more refined.
Dolichos is versatile, it can be a side dish and a main dish, it is equally good in salads and soups, especially when combined with ginger and coconut. It goes well with any spices, rice, vegetables, seafood. Green beans and unripe seeds are used as a condiment to meat dishes.
Dolichos is not often used in European cuisine. There are several reasons for this: firstly, dolichos takes a very long time to cook, and secondly, it contains glycosides - substances that can be converted into hydrocyanic acid in the human body. That is why it is necessary to pre-soak these beans, changing the water several times, and then cook for at least 1-1.5 hours.
Cm. Valencian paella with dolichos and seafood,
Vegetable stew with dolichos beans,
Dolichos Beans with Crispy Fried Shallots
Dolichos, as a very picturesque liana, can be used for landscaping and decorating gazebos, fences, for creating arches and pergolas, where its unusually colored foliage and especially bright fruits create an extraordinary decorative effect. It will look great in the garden next to gatsania, gailardia, dimorphoteka, coreopsis, escholzia and other bright colors with contrasting colors.
Based on materials from the newspaper "Ural Gardener"