Tylosema esculentum - (Burch.) A.Schreib.
Common Name Marama Bean
Family Fabaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Localized in patches in grassland and wooded grassland vegetation in sandy and limestone (including dolomite) soils, but not on soils developed over granite or basalt[299 ].
Range Southern Africa - Kalahari desert and neighbouring sandy regions.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

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Tylosema esculentum, commonly known as Marama Bean or Gemsbok Bean is a perennial legume native to Southern Africa. It is long-lived and grows at least 3 m. The tuber can grow at least 10 kg, which makes the plant capable of growing under harsh environmental conditions.The seeds develop in legume pods. Marama bean has no medicinal uses but is an important food crop. The seeds are cooked by roasting or boiling. Immature seeds and stems are also cooked. The seeds yield edible oil with taste and consistency comparable to that of almond oil. The tuber is baked, boiled, or roasted.

Tylosema esculentum Marama Bean

Tylosema esculentum Marama Bean
NoodleToo wikimedia.org Public Domain
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Tylosema esculentum is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Bauhinia burkeana (Benth.) Harv. Bauhinia esculenta Burch.

Edible Uses
Seed - cooked. After roasting, the seeds have a delicious, nutty flavour similar to coffee beans or roasted cashews[301 ]. They may be boiled with maize meal or ground into flour to prepare a porridge or a coffee- or cocoa-like drink[299 ]. The roasted seeds have sometimes been used as a culinary substitute for almonds[299 ]. The seeds have a protein content around 30% (approaching that of the soya bean) and an oil content around 40% (approaching that of the peanut)[301 ]. The immature seeds and stems may be eaten cooked as a vegetable or in soups[299 ]. A coffee-like beverage can be made from the seeds[317 ]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[301 ]. Similar to almond oil in consistency and taste[299 , 301 ]. Golden-yellow, with a nutty odour and a pleasant, although slightly bitter flavour[299 ] Tuber - cooked. The sweet-tasting tuber can be baked, boiled or roasted[301 , 317 ]. Young tubers have a sweet and pleasant taste and the texture has been described as similar to that of artichoke[299 ]. Tubers older than 2 years become fibrous and bitter and are usually not eaten, but they are an important emergency source of water for humans and animals[299 ].
Medicinal Uses
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known


Other Uses
Agroforestry Uses: Marama bean may have potential as an ornamental ground cover plant[299 ]. Other Uses None known
Cultivation details
Management: Standard;  New Crop;  Staple Crop: Protein;  Wild Staple Crop.

A plant of the drier tropics, marama bean occurs naturally in an extreme environment with high temperatures and very low rainfall[299 ]. It can be found at elevations up to 1,500 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30?c, but can tolerate 16 - 50?c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 300 - 600mm, but tolerates 150 - 1,600mm[398 , 418 ]. The plant probably survives droughts by drawing on water stored in the tuber, which shrinks greatly in dry years[418 ]. Requires a sunny position. Grows best in a deep, loose, sandy soil[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[418 ]. An extremely drought-tolerant plant, it can grow in areas where rainfall is so slight and erratic that in some years almost no rain falls at all[418 ]. In its native habitat surface water is usually available only for 8 weeks a year, though in the fine-grained sandy soils water may remain in the root zone for as long as 2 months after a rainfall[418 ]. Unlike most members of this plant family, this species does not form nitrogen nodules on the roots[299 ].
Seed it should not be pre-soaked, though germination might be improved by scarification[299 ]. Germination starts to take place after about 9 days[299 ].
Other Names
#ng#a, /noukom, braai-boontjie, braaiboontjie, dinga, ditsidi, dshin, dshìn, dz'hi, dz'hì [seed], dzhì [seed], elandsbohne, elandsboontjie, elandsboontjie pitte, gami, ganu, gemsbok bean, gemsbokboontjie, gemsbokwortel, gemsbuck bean, gemsbuck beans, gensbokboontjies, lai, litammani [seeds], marama, marama bean, marama-bean, maramaboontjie, marami, marumama, morama, moramma nut, muraki, murama, n//ang, n//n [tuber], ndjuya, ngami, n||??gng (tuber), n||ang, n||ang [tuber], n||ning, n||ning [plant and bulb], ombanui, ombanui [seed], ombanwi, ombanwi [seed], omumbanyu [aerial plant parts], otjipiva, otjipiva [tuber], otjipiya [plant], otjipiya [tuber], ozombanui, ozombanui [seeds], ozombanyu [seeds], rama, sekophane (tuber), tamami berry, tamani berry, tammani, tammani [seeds], thamani berry, tjhng, ts''hi, tsi, tsi [seed], tsin, z?rè (seed), zare [seed], |xouba, ||naus, ||nâu, ||nâuhaib, ||nâuns [plant and fruit], ||nâus, ?ng?a.
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed
Related Plants


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Expert comment
(Burch.) A.Schreib.
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.
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Subject : Tylosema esculentum  

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