Rhynchosia caribaea

Family: Fabaceae
Common names: snoutbean (Eng.); rankboontjie (Afr.)

The flowers are 9–20 mm long, yellow with purple or dark blue stripes, glabrous. The fruit a pod, 20–35 × 5–9 mm, falcate, not inflated, and covered in long, silky, golden, glandular hairs. The seeds are black. The Rhynchosia caribaea plants attract butterflies, including Cupidopsis iobates and Actizera lucida.

Medical Uses

This indigenous, herbaceous climber is an important medicinal plant in traditional healing in southern Africa, especially for the Basotho and Zulu people. The lotion of cooked roots is used for the treatment of rheumatic pains. The powdered root is snuffed to alleviate headaches. The decoction of the plant is used for washing of sheep and goat garments.

The roots are also used for preparation of non-alcoholic drinks and meal. The drink known as machao, is prepared by pounding the dried roots and the powder is then mixed with water and often sweetened with sugar. In preparing the meal, the roots are dried, pounded and cooked with water into porridge. The black seeds are frequently used for making ornamental chains and necklaces.