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close-up of seeds (Photo: Tracey Slotta at USDA PLANTS Database)
Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC. var. utilis (Wall. ex Wight) Baker ex Burck
Dolichos pruriens L.Mucuna utilis Wall. ex WightStizolobium pruriens (L.) Medik.
Fabaceae (Queensland, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory)Fabaceae: sub-family Faboideae (New South Wales)Leguminosae (South Australia)Papilionaceae (Western Australia)
Bengal bean, Bengal velvet bean, cow itch, cowage velvet bean, cow-itch, cowitch, Florida velvet bean, horse eye bean, lacuna bean, Lyon bean, Mauritius velvet bean, mucuna, pica-pica, velvet bean, velvetbean, Yokohama velvet bean
This species has a very widespread distribution throughout the tropical regions of the world (i.e. it is pan-tropical). It is thought to have originated in India and south-eastern Asia, but its exact native distribution is obscure and it is sometimes also regarded as being native to tropical America.
Widely naturalised, but scattered, in northern and eastern Australia (i.e. in northern and eastern Queensland and the northern parts of the Northern Territory). Also present on Christmas Island, but it is possibly native to this area.
Cow itch (Mucuna pruriens var. utilis) is regarded as a potentially serious environmental weed in northern Australia. It is on the Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) list and is also seen as a "sleeper weed" in some parts of northern Australia.