The Matchbox Bean (Entada Rheedii)

Jungle Vines and Liana
A very important part of jungle bushcraft is to know about the local jungle plants, and among the most useful plants in the jungle to know are the jungle vines. A jungle vine is also known as liana especially ones with with wooded trunk and not green. Jungle vines and Lianas are generally climbers and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are even 10-12 inches wide at the base.

This type of jungle plants exist in most tropical and subtropical regions ranging from the sea beaches to the jungles, hills and rivers. They are also very common, which is one of the qualities that make this jungle plant more important to know. Knowing the importance of this type of jungle plant, my father taught me to recognize jungle vines and to know their uses even before I was 10 years old.

One of the jungle vines he taught me was the Beluru vines. Its scientific name is Entada Rheedii. We call it Beluru vine or Kapang vine in Malaysia. It's also known as Matchbox Bean Vine, African Dream Vine and also Sea Bean in other regions.

Jungle Lianas and Jungle Vines Matchbox Beans Pods
Young Matchbox Bean Pod - Picture Credit
This jungle vines is particularly useful because it's widely available, it's easy to recognize and most importantly, it have multiple uses. This jungle vine in particular can be distinguished from others by its bean pods. The pods emerge throughout the year and it’s with season. It is inside the pods that the seed shell can be found.When the pod is still young shaped and colored like in the picture above but after it’s ripen it will turn dark brown or even black.

There are plenty of bushcraft uses that can be derived from this jungle vine. So I will list it categorically below. Be aware, even the pics were taken from Wikipedia (credits given where it's due) but the knowledge are genuinely from our jungles.

As a source of water.
The climbing vines when severed at the bottom and top will produce clear water. This water is safe to drink. It may have very slight taste of saponin but if the taste is too strong, stop drinking - there’s some chance you can get sick from it, so find another vine. Also do not drink from it if the water is not crystal clear or if it’s producing bubbles excessively. You don’t want to turn into Swamp Thing by drinking from a vine, do you? The water should be collected in a container for drinking, not taken directly from the vine. This is because the vine bark contains some alkaloid that may irritate your mouth or worse. Plus, it won’t do you any good if the heavy vine with a pointed end slip through your hands and lunge straight to your face. In my village the water was used to heal dysentery by drinking it a few times a day.

As a disinfecting soap or shampoo
This vine wood can also be pounded to extract the biochemicals inside. After pounding the vine, add some water and use the mixture as a mild antiseptic shampoo or soap. Same methods can be used to clean minor wounds. Warning! Please don’t do this in large quantities near a jungle stream that harbors fish and life. The extract can poison the fishes and kill all life in the water. Natives were known to use this method which Malaysian called "Menuba" but it is outlawed due to its indiscriminate destruction nowadays.

Jungle Lianas and Jungle Vines Matchbox Beans Seed Fruit
The liana fruit inside its split seed shell - Picture Credit.

To clarify, what I mean by the fruit is the white meat inside the shell of the seed as depicted by the picture above.
1. As Food

Beware: The fruit cannot be eaten raw straight from the pod even when ripe like the picture above. According to natives and my father, it make cause the person who consume it hallucinate and can't differentiate between reality and dream. Some say it's side effects are even worse. To eat the fruit, you have to gather the fully ripen beans in large quantities, break the shells to get to the fruit and then cut or break the fruit into smaller pieces. Then these will have to be put into a small net or a sift and left submerged in a flowing stream for twenty four hours. After that, it can be pounded to baked as bread flour or simply barbecued and eaten. It tastes bland as bread and a little bitter when barbecued. Don't ask me about the nutritional value - I don't know. But I'm sure it won't keep me alive like a staple food especially the effort needed to make it edible negates the benefits of its calories. If my students asked me, i'd prefer pizza.

2. As Lantern Oil Source
Yes, Lantern Oil! This thing rocks. What you need to do is gather fully ripen beans and simply pound it. You will notice some sort of fatty oil oozing from the flour. Next, you'll need to repeatedly cold-press and slowly heat the the pounded beans near a fire or on a pan to extract the fatty oil. This oil, can be used in a simple lantern (genie lantern) as the fuel. Just don't put it into your gas tank. I won't work that way.


As Food and Medicine
The young soft shoots of this jungle plant can be eaten raw as greens. It was also used int his way to help dysentery and diarrhea. Tastes somewhat bitter but very much edible.


As Creative Material

Jungle Lianas and Jungle Vines Matchbox Beans Seed
The Seed of the Beans - Picture Credit
The shell of the matchbox bean can also be made into various items, like tinder case, scraper, seasoning case or what else, matchbox! Haha.. this is why many people in Australia call it matchbox beans in the first place. 

Honestly, there are more uses for this particular plant. So if anyone else knows more, please share in comments below!



Uses of Match Box Sea Bean


  1. Nice post bubby,

    keep it up! Why don't you put in some of your camping journals?

  2. Thank for the comment.

    Coming bro, coming... Huhu.. If want to put up camping journal pics specifically for blog and example purposes, i'd have to bring my camera next time i go camping. I'ts coming.. dun worry.


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