A Review on Pharmacognostical, Phytochemical and Pharmacological aspects of Psophocarpus tetragonalobus


Dhanya Rajan*

Assistant Professor, Department of  Pharmacognosy, Crescent College of  Pharmaceutical Sciences, Madayipara, Kannur

*Corresponding Author E-mail: dhanyarenjith341987@gmail.com



Plant kingdom plays a vital role in mans existence on earth. Nature provides a complete store house of remedies to cure all diseases and disorders of human beings. Plants had been used for medicinal purpose long before recorded history and substances derived from plants remains the basis for large proportion of commercial medications used in Ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathic and in modern medicines. A complete understanding of medicinal plants includes botany, pharmacognosy, chemistry, enzymology and genetics. Psophocarpus tetragonalobus of the family Leguminosae or Fabaceae commonly known as winged bean attracts the attention as valuable crop because of its high nutritional value. About 95% of world food energy needs are provided by just 30% and 50% requirement of proteins is just from maize. wheat and rice. But there are many underutilized crops that contribute to nutrition and health of people. Psophocarpus tetragonalobus is one such twinning perennial legume which is rich in proteins. Its green pods, dried seeds freash leaves, flowers, and tuberous roots are rich in protein. The plant also possess various therapeutic activities like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, antiulcer, antidiabetic and cytotoxic activity of which few are already been reported. This plant can therefore be considered as a medicinal plant for future benefits. With this concept in mind the present review aims to investigate various pharmacognostical, Phytochemical and pharmacological aspects of Psophocarpus tetragonalobus.


KEYWORDS: underutilized crop, protein rich, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, phenolic compounds.




The winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), also known as the Goa bean, four-angled and dragon bean, is a tropical legume which is widely known, but only cultivated on a small scale.[1] Winged bean is widely recognized by farmers and consumers in southern Asia for its variety of uses and disease resistant property.


Winged bean has high nutrient content among the legumes and all parts of the plant are edible. Leaves can be eaten as spinach, flowers as salads, tubers either raw or cooked, seeds just as soyabean[1]. The winged bean is an underutilised species but has the potential to become a major multi-use food crop in both developed and developing countries. Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) is a valuable nutritious and underutilised crop of family (Leguminosae) which meets the dietary needs of people and yields more amount of protein per unit area when compared to other legume. Winged bean as richest source of protein and oil except from soybean and ground nut.[2][3]

Plant Taxonomy


















P. tetragonolobus



Psophocarpus tetragonolobus Plant


Plant Morphology:

It is a herbaceous perennial climber with 3 - 5 m in height cultivated at an altitudes ranging from 0 - 2000 m and grows mainly in tropical environments.


Foliage: Leaves green and trifoliate (compound leaves each consisting of 3 leaflets). Leaflets large (8 – 15 cm long, 8 – 15 cm wide at the broadest point) and ovate (lateral leaflets) or deltoid (terminal leaflet).


Flowers: Pea-like flowers classified as papilionaceous are usually light blue, but occasionally white (2.5 - 3.5 cm wide).


Fruits are in the form of elongated pods (15 – 30 cm long, 3 cm wide) square or rectangular in shape. Frilly or sometimes smooth wings are seen along the length of the pod at each corner. At maturity, pods break open to release 5 – 18 round, smooth seeds. Propagation is done by seeds which are soaked before planting to speed up germination. Apply fungicide to the seeds before planting.



Hardy plant that grows well in hot, humid environments with high rainfall. Sensitive to frost. Tolerates various types of soils, but does not grow well in soils that are waterlogged or have a pH < 5.5. Allow 50 cm of space between plants. Growth is initially slow when young (0 - 6 weeks). Harvesting of fruits is done between 10-12 weeks after planting. This species is susceptible to false rust, dark leaf-spot, root knot nematodes and various insects pests



The genus name of “Psophocarpus” means noisy fruit because their pods make a popping noise when they dehisce and release their seeds. Tetragonolobus refers to the four sides of the fruit[4,] The entire winged bean plant is edible. The leaves, flowers, roots, and bean pods can be eaten raw or cooked. Each of these parts contains vitamin A and C, calcium and iron among other nutrients.[3]The tender pods are best when eaten before they exceed 2.5 centimetres (1.0 in) in length.. The young leaves can be prepared similar to spinach. The nutrient-rich, tuberous roots have a nutty flavour. They are about 20% protein; winged bean roots have more protein than many other vegetables.[3] The leaves and flowers are also high in protein (10–15%).[2] The seeds are about 35% protein and 18% fat. They can be eaten dried or roasted. Dried and ground seeds make a useful flour and can be brewed to make a coffee -like drink[3].


Pharmacognostical And Phytochemical Evaluations

Active Constituents from Winged Bean:

Seeds of winged bean have reported to contain pharmacologically active anti-nutrients such as trypsin and chymotrypsin inhibitors, haematoglutins and amylase inhibitors[5] and other unfavorable compounds like tannins[6] (proanthocyanidins). Tannins are polyphenolic compounds which can precipitate with protein and therefore, reduce food protein quality in monogastrics[7].


Callus Induction Studies in Psophocarpus Tetragonolobus:

An efficient callus induction of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) (Winged bean) was carried out. Explants were cultured on Murashige and Skoog (MS) basal medium with 1.0-1.2 mg/l 2, 4 D and 0.01-0.03 mg/l Kinetin suppliments for callus induction. MS medium supplemented with 1.2 mg/l 2, 4 D & 0.03 mg/l Kinetin from Petiole and Epicotyl explants showed a better callus induction which confirmed that Petiole and Epicotyl explants get better and early response than Leaf, root and hypocotyl etc[8].


n-alkanes from winged bean:

Leaf epicuticular waxes of fresh and matured leaves of three cultivars of winged bean [Psophocarpus tetragonolobus] were extracted with n-hexane and was analysed for Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC), Infrared Spectroscopy (IR), Gas Chromatography (GC) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Leaf cuticular wax mainly consists of straight chain aliphatic hydrocarbons with a variety of substituted groups. Scanning Electron Microscopic studies revealed specific patterns in three cultivars studied. Among the three cultivars, amount of nalkane is comparatively high in EC38821B, but low in EC27886. Nineteen n-alkanes from nC16 to n-C35 (except n-C21) had varying composition in the mature leaves. The predominant n-alkanes were C29 and C31 while C20 and C26 were only present in minor amounts which serves as a tool in chemo taxonomical work[9]

Generality and Diversity of Winged Bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) Protein in Eight Various Lines:           

Protein components from eight lines of winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus)seeds was studied for its generality and diversity. Two major peaks which had sedimentation coefficients, s20, of about 2.5S and about 6.5S were observed in all specimens with 90% extraction. column chromatography of 6.5S showed 2 bands (a main broad band and a few minor bands) which was similar in eight lines of winged bean. This suggests that “6.5S” protein is a common storage protein in winged bean seeds[10].


Diseases and pests of the winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus in Sri Lanka:

A survey was conducted on Several viral, bacterial, fungal and nematode diseases which affects the winged bean in Sri Lanka. Three fungal diseases, pulvinus rot (Fusarium pallidoroseum) pod rot (Botryodiploidea theobromae) and leaf scorch (Phoma sorgina) have not been recorded elsewhere. Commonly affected insects and pests recorded includes; Myllocerus curvicornis, Myllocerus undatus, Hypolixus truncatulus, Luperomorpha discoidea, Pagria signata, Parasa lepida, Syntomis passalis, Euproctis scintillans, Dysdercus olivaceus, Riptortus pedestris and species of Helopeltis, Leptocentrus, Zoriada, Laius, Euops, Brachyplatys and Cletus.[11]


Studies on winged bean, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) nutrition in laboratory environment:

A study of winged beans [Psophocarpus tetragonolobus] nutrition was performed on laboratory environment by using three major plant nutrients, N, P and K in increasing amounts.The plants were grown for two months under controlled conditions of light, humidity and temperature.The data obtained showed no positive effect of N treatment, rather negative. The most significant nutrient is P,which showed the highest increase in green and dry mass. The K is most effective at low medium ratios and is suggested only on K poor soils[12].


Characterization of winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L) based on molecular, chemical and physiological parameter:

Analysis of the mutual genotypic relationships among twenty four genotypes of P. tetragonolobus through Mantel test found a significant correlation (r = 0.839) between similarity matrices of the results obtained from the use of the RAPD and ISSR molecular markers. Quantification of total polyphenols, flavonoids and tannin revealed the highest percentage of occurrence of kaempferol (1.07- 790.5 μg/g) and the lowest percentage of gallic acid (0.09-3.49 μg/g) in the seeds. Phytochemical analysis of the winged bean genotypes revealed that, some of the exotic lines are distinct. Analysis of photosynthesis rate, photosynthetic yield and stomatal conductance data also showed two clusters and was in congruence with the phytochemical affinities of the genotypes. The overall high level of polymorphism and varied range of genetic distances across the genotypes revealed a wide range of genetic base of P. tetragonolobus[13].


Physicochemical analysis of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) seeds with fatty acids and total lipids compositions.:

A study was done to evaaluate the physical properties and proximate composition of the seeds and the physico-chemical properties of fatty oil from fully mature seeds. The fatty oil compositions of immature, mature and fully mature seeds were evaluated by GC-FID, GC/MS and 1 H-NMR. The result revealed that the fatty oil from fully mature seeds contained high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids (75.5 %), compared to immature seeds which showed higher percentage of saturated fatty acid (61.3 %). Unsaponification matter (0.25 %) of fatty oil was identified as stigmasterol (66.4 %) and β- sitosterol (25.1 %). Total lipids of fully mature seeds were extracted and isolated as neutral, glyco- and phospholipids. Thus the fatty oil of fully mature seeds was enriched with mono-unsaturated fatty acids (38.6 %) and poly-unsaturated fatty acids (36.9 %) without trans-fatty acids, thus meeting the edible oil standard.[14]


Diseases Of The Winged Bean In Ivory Coast:

A study was carried out to observe the diseases and pathogens on the winged bean, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus in Ivory Coast. Root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.) severely damaged roots and tubers of the bean. A leaf anthracnose caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides did not reduce yield[15].


Morphological Characteristics and Pathogenicity of Synchytrium psophocarpi (Rac.) Baumann Associated With False Rust on Winged Bean:

Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus L.) is an important tropical legume in countries like Malaysia due to its potential as a high protein value crop.Bright-orange pustules observed on the veins of young leaves, stems, pods and sepals depict symptoms of false rust disease on beans which was caused by Synchytrium psophocarpi. The results of this study described the morphology, zoospore production and pathogenicity of the causal fungal organism which serves as a useful measure for the studies involving this pathogen in future. This study was reported based from samples obtained from infected winged bean plants found in the fields around the University Putra Malaysia campus in Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia. The morphological characteristics were studied using dark field and scanning electron microscope and also pathogenicity test was carried out using moist chamber and on Petri dish methods.The results showed that the sporangia were spherical to ovoid in shape and approximately 20.69 µm in diameter. The average diameter for spore measured was 2.02 µm and the flagella were 10.75 µm in length. Positive disease development with false rust disease symptoms was observed in both methods of inoculation practiced.[16]


Microstructure of Winged Beans:

Microstructures of seven plant introductions of winged beans (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) produced in Okinawa, Japan were investigated. All seven had very thick cell wallswith starch granules in some rarely. The cell walls contained a number of depressions which frequently occurred opposite complementary pits with transversely arranged Plasmodesmata. In cotyledonary cells at 30 days after flowering, cell walls which had pitpairs with plasmodesmata, developing amyloplasts with starch granules, vacuoles with dense flocculent materials, tubular rough endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria etc. were observed and protein bodies and lipid bodies were found at 45 days after flowering.[17]


Pharmacological Activities:

Antibacterial Activity and Toxicity of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus.:

A methanol extract of the Psophocarpus tetragonolobus. (L.) DC (Leguminosae) leaves was screened for antimicrobial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa using disk diffusion assay and broth dilution method .The extract showed favorable antimicrobial activity with a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of 2.55 mg/mL. Apart from the antibacterial study,imaging using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was done which showed alterations in morphology and complete collapse of the bacterial cells after 36 h of exposure to the extract. The growth profile of the bacteria with extract was also showed changes thus confirming the bactericidal effect of the extract on Pseudomonas aeruginosa.[18].


Fungicidal Effect and Oral Acute Toxicity of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus. Root Extract:

The methanol extract of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus. (L.) DC (Leguminosae) root was screened for antimicrobial activity against Candida albicans. The extract showed a favorable antimicrobial activity against C. albicans. with a minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) value of 3.13 mg/mL. Imaging using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) was done to determine the major alterations in the microstructure of C. albicans.. The result showed alterations in morphology and complete collapse of the yeast cells after 36 h of exposure to the extract. The effect of the extract on the growth profile of the yeast was also examined. It changed the normal growth profile of C. albicans. In an acute toxicity study using rats, death was not observed, so the acute minimum fatal dose of the extract was greater than 2000 mg/kg[19].


Phenolic Content and In vitro Antioxidant Activity of Winged Bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus):

Winged bean provides a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. The antioxidant potential of 75% methanol extract, ethyl acetate and chloroform soluble fractions of P. tetragonolobus was screened for in-vitro antioxidant activity using total phenolic content, ferric reducing power, 2, 2’-azinobis-(3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS) assay, Ferric Thiocyanate (FTC) and Thiobarbituric Acid (TBA) tests. It was found that ethyl acetate fraction have maximum amount of polyphenolics compounds (1.69 mg/g GAE in concentration 0.5 mg/mL) higher than methanol and chloroform fractions. Antioxidant concentration was found highest in ethyl acetate extract (27.12 mM) using FRAP method and FTC method, while chloroform extract has the highest antioxidant level (4.48 mM) using ABTS assay.TBA results shows no difference in antioxidant activity of all extract of P. tetragonolobus[20]

The antioxidant activity of P.Tetragonolobus was evaluated by DPPH free radical scavenging,ABTS free radical scavenging and FRAP assay methods,and the correlation of the antioxidant activity and total polyphenols and flavonoids was studied.The results showed that the petroleum ether extract of P.Tetragonolobus and n-butanol extract had certain antioxidant activity, ABTS radical scavenging activity and Ferric reducing antioxidant power of n-butanol extract of P.tetragonolobus might be related to its high polyphenols content.[21]


Anti-inflammatory,antioxidant and antinociceptive properties.:

The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-nociceptive properties of six Malaysian medicinal plants, including Carica papaya, Musa acuminata, Oenanthe javanica, Piper sarmentosum, Psophocarpustetragonolobus and Sauropus androgynus were investigated. The anti-inflammatory effects of themethanolic plant extracts were evaluated by using Griess assay The antioxidant property and total phenolic content of the plant extracts were determined by using DPPH radical scavenging assay and Folin-Ciocalteu’s assay, respectively. Anti-nociceptive activity of the plant extracts were evaluated by measuring the number ofwrithing response of mice upon acetic acid induction. All plant species showed significant nitric oxide (NO) inhibitory activity, antioxidant activity and antinoceceptive activity. The antioxidant activity might be due to the present of phenolic compounds (34.20 to 50.01 mg GA/g DW samples)[22].




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15.  Renaud Fortuner et.al.Diseases Of The Winged Bean In Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast Vol. 63, No. 3. Plant Disease Reporter.March 1979. 194-199

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23.  Evaluation of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-

24.  nociceptive activities of six Malaysian medicinal plants




Received on 18.06.2018          Modified on 03.07.2018

Accepted on 11.09.2018  ©A&V Publications All right reserved

Res. J. Pharmacognosy and Phytochem. 2018; 10(4): 331-335.

DOI: 10.5958/0975-4385.2018.00053.5