sphenostylis stenocarpa is a genus of flowering plants in the legume family, Fabaceae. It belongs to the subfamily Faboideae. Sphenostylis contains several species useful as food sources including Sphenostylis stenocarpa.
Sphenostylis stenocarpa belongs to the Fabaceae family characterized by its fruit (legume) and stipulated leaves. Three species of Sphenostylis are important food sources in Africa, including the under-exploited African Yam Bean (Sphenostylis stenocarpa), which can be consumed as dry cooked seeds or tuber.
African yam bean is grown in countries of West Africa such as Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. The tuber grows as the root source, while the yam bean develops into the pod containing 20-30 seeds found above the ground. These seeds can be found in colors including brown, black, and red varieties. It grows as a vine to heights of about 3m and produces brightly colored flowers in 100–150 days.
This yam bean is a very useful crop because of the extreme conditions it can thrive in, including high rainfall, acidity, and infertile soils, and its resistance to several major crop pests. It is also useful because of its high nitrogen-fixing ability, replenishing soil it is grown in of its nitrogen. In West Africa, the seeds of the African yam bean are primarily used, while in the East and Central regions of Africa, the tubers are primarily used. The African yam bean is a legume that is rich in protein and starch and an important source of calcium and amino acids.