Alkushi or Cowitch, Mucana pruriens

Alkushi or Cowitch (Mucana pruriens, family: Fabaceae) is an annual or sometimes perennial twinning vine. It is one of the best itch-producing fruits in the world. The leafy and hairy plant is found beside the roads, in village thickets and in the deep hilly forests of Bangladesh. It is also found in some countries of South and Southeast Asia. 

Other names: Bilai chimti, Koch, Bichuti.

Leaves are tri-foliate, grey-silky beneath, leaflets ovate or almost quadrangular, 8-17 cm long, petioled. Leaf-nerves are unequal-sided. 

6-30 flowers flowers are in raceme inflorescence, pendulous, 15-30 cm long, tube campanulate, corolla usually deep purple, also be white or pink, 3-4 cm long. Flowering occurs in October-November.

Fruit is S-shaped pod that covered with numerous irritating or stinging hairs, grey in color, 5-8 cm long and 1.5 cm wide. Seeds 5-6, grey in color. Fruit matures in November-February.


Its fruits, seeds, roots have been widely used in Ayurvedic treatment for ages. Roots are used as a tonic. Fruits are used in worm diseases. Decoction of roots is diuretic and used in urinary diseases. Seeds are used in rheumatism and to increase sperm.


It is propagated by seeds. It looks quite the Bean vine. The hairs of the fruit cause severe itching when it touches the human or the body of domestic animals. So special care is needed to touch the hairy fruits! 

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