Lucky Black Bean


Perhaps the easiest local plant to propagate is the Black Bean Castanospermum australe. Pick up one of the huge beans and throw it into the bushes. Done. After that you can float a few beans in their pod down the creek to propagate a more downstream.

Native to northern Australia, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea, Aboriginal people spread the Black Bean from Queensland into New South Wales. Using DNA mapping, a botanist with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Maurizio Rosetto, found that all Black Beans in New South Wales were grown from “a single mother seed”.

Black Bean is surprisingly popular overseas. According to Plant World London, “This ideal indoor plant will give an exotic aesthetic to your place. The plant is known also as the Lucky Bean or Jack’s Beanstalk because it can reach heights of 40 metres when outdoors. It grows slowly and you can control it indoors to the desired size and shape.”

Like many of our rainforest plants, the Black Bean will only grow to its full height if the conditions are suitable. Saplings frequently remain under a metre tall particularly surrounding a mature tree.

Although they propagate readily, the Black Bean does not appear to be a weed. reports “there does not appear to be any record of it as a serious weed anywhere, despite its widespread introduction and cultivation into areas outside of its natural range, including in countries in Asia, Africa and the Pacific.”

Castanospermum australe is the only species in the genus Castanospermum. Aboriginal people ate the beans after elaborate treatment. The unprocessed seeds are considered poisonous since they contain toxins.

You can obtain Black Beans plants from the SOWN Nursery. There are plenty of beans to collect along our local creeks particularly in Walton Bridge Reserve on the eastern side. Black Beans produce pods in the cooler month of the year.

Find out more about the Black Bean Castanospermum australe in SOWN’s Plants to Plant.

Black Bean pods and beans PHOTO: Anne Jones

These one-year old Black Bean plants are growing under the parent tree PHOTO: Anne Jones