Macroptilium lathyroides (L.) Urb.

Etymology Genus Large (Marco) feather (ptilium); perhaps referring to the compound leaves
Species Resembles plants from the genus Lathyrus
Family Fabaceae
Synonyms Phaseolus semierectus L., Phaseolus lathyroides L.
Common Names Cow Pea, Pea Bean, Phasey Bean
Status Exotic: Naturalised
Form Herb
Native Distribution Tropical America


Macroptilium lathyroides is an upright herb common in scrublands. They frequently flower and their maroon petals are quite eye-catching. The leaves are trifoilated, and the mid leaflet having a stalk while the other two side leaflets are sessile.

Interesting Facts:

In Puerto Rico, the Cow Pea is a host for the Bean Golden Yellow Mosaic Virus, which can potentially cause devasting crop diseases (Bracero & Rivera, 2003).

The Cow Pea in its scrubland habitat.

Flowers are maroon in colour.

The trifoliate leaves.

The stipules are paired and pointed.

The fruits turn from green to brown after ripening.

The rectangular seeds.


Bracero V & LI Rivera. (2003) DNA Analysis Confirms Macroptilium lathyroides as Alternative Host of Bean golden yellow mosaic virus. Plant Disease, 87: 1022-1025.

Author: Jake
Posted: 2013-05-15 / Modified: 2017-12-25