Sunday, August 14, 2022

Bayean - Canavalia rosea

 Baybean (Canavalia rosea) is a member of the legume family and found in coastal habitats from extreme south Florida, north to Dixie County on the west coast and Volusia County on the east.  It also occurs in coastal counties west of Florida - from Alabama to Texas.  It is a mat-forming perennial vine that spreads outward from its main stem for distances as great as 50 feet. It also can climb up on neighboring vegetation and reach heights several feet above ground.

Like many legumes, it has compound leaves; in this case in groups of three.  Each is rounded in shape, up to 4 inches long, nearly 3 inches wide, and leathery in texture.  This is an evergreen plant.  Flowering can occur during any month.  The large bright-pink flowers occur axillary to the stems.  Each is 6 inches long and at least 1 inch wide.  The upper petals form a distinct hood that arches over the reproductive structures while the lower fused petals form a distinct lip. These are marked in yellow and white and serve to direct pollinators - especially large bees.

Baybean can make a useful ground cover for large coastal dunes as the sprawling evergreen stems serve to reduce erosion. It is not a good choice, however, for smaller settings or for mixed plantings as it is quite aggressive. The leaves are edible, but the seeds are toxic. This plant is sometimes offered commercially by native plant nurseries affiliated with FANN - the Florida Association of Native Nurseries.