Mucuna, also known as Mucuna Pruriens or velvet bean, is a tropical legume native to certain parts of Asia and Africa. It is a valued herb in both horticulture and agriculture, and happens to have numerous health properties. A genus of around 100 species of shrubs and climbing vines found mostly in tropical woodlands, Mucuna belongs to the kingdom of plantae, family of Fabales, and the tribe of phaseoleae. The leaves of the plant are spiraled, while the flowers resemble large peas with distinctively curved petals.. Mucuna fruit grow up to 6-12 inches, and like all legumes, bear seedpods. An annual climbing shrub, Mucuna can reach heights of up to 50 feet. When the plant is relatively young, it is covered by orange colored hair which may cause irritation on contact, however the fuzzy hairy texture sheds gradually as the plant grows.
Mucuna is known for its various health properties, the most prominent of which is supporting the health of the nervous system. Consuming a decoction of Mucuna roots is thought to purify blood and improve vitality and longevity. In Central America, the seeds of this plant are roasted and grounded to make coffee. Mucuna is considered to be a highly potent nerve tonic, and has long been used in Ayurveda for muscle support, sexual energy, stress and throat and respiratory health.