It is a shrub originally from India that can reach 4 m. in height. The stem is ribbed when young, but becomes woody and plump when it reaches maturity. The leaves grow up to 13 cm. long and 5.5 cm. wide. They are composed of 3 small leaves that alternate. The flowers are presented in clusters with yellow flowers and reddish spots or in combinations of yellow and purple. The pods contain between 5 and 7 grains, green in the early stages and yellowish or cream as they ripen, depending on the variety. It resists drought well, but needs humidity during the first two months. It is also able to survive in poor soils with low nutrient content. However, it does require good drainage and a varied topography since its growth is affected by waterlogged soils.
The grains are an excellent source of fiber that helps regulate cholesterol. It can serve as a substitute for wheat, flour and pasta. It is low in fat and has a high protein content. It also contains calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin A and B, potassium, sodium and phosphorus. The grain can relieve sinusitis and rhinitis.