Attractive legume with unusual royal purple flowers that grows 3-18 m in height. Its flowers hang in long clusters. The plant also produces clusters of pods which contain seeds known as mucuna beans. The seed pods are covered with reddish-orange hairs that are readily dislodged and can cause intense irritation to the skin. The species name "pruriens" (from the Latin, "itching sensation") refers to the results to be had from contact with the seed pod hairs. The beans are also called Nescafe, and are used as a coffee substitute. Mucuna has been used for generations in India for Parkinsons disease. It is used to make dopamine, an important brain chemical involved in mood, sexuality, and movement. The plant has antioxidant properties. In Central America, velvet beans have been roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute for decades; its goes by the common name of "nescafé" in these regions, as well as in Brazil, for this reason. It is still grown as a food crop by the Ketchi indigenous people in Guatemala; the bean is cooked as a vegetable. It is considered a diuretic, nerve tonic, and aphrodisiac. Externally it is applied to ulcers.