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Unripe pods of the kidney bean ("green beans")
Dark Bean Seeds ( Pinto Bean )

When bean is referred to both the round, partly elongated or kidney-shaped seed and the surrounding sleeve , together with the enclosed seeds (for example, green beans , green beans , field beans , also on the lens Wicke ) those seeds and also the entire forming plant of the family of legumes (Fabaceae or Leguminosae). There are numerous genera and species of plants with different origins and characteristics and uses, all of which are referred to as beans. Various beans are important crops. The most important beans in Central Europe are the seeds of the common bean ( Phaseolus vulgaris ).

Some beans are only edible after they have been cooked ; the harmful lectins are destroyed by heating .

Bean plants

The plants referred to as beans almost all belong to the tribe Phaseoleae in the subfamily of the butterflies (Faboideae).

The different types of beans are listed according to their genera and, as far as possible, arranged according to their geographical origin.

Asia, Europe and Africa

Soybean ripe pod

The traditional European bean is:

  • Vicia faba L., field bean , also known as broad bean, broad bean, horse bean or broad bean.
    It does not belong to the tribe Phaseoleae mentioned above , but to the tribe Fabeae (Syn .: Vicieae), which also includes the pea , the chickpea and the lentil .

One of the most important crops, originating in East Asia:

  • Glycine max (L.) Merill, soybean , is grown today mainly in North and South America

Many species of the genus of Vigna -Beans are in Asia or Africa resident. In particular one finds:

  • Vigna aconitifolia (Jacq.) Maréchal, mat bean
  • Vigna angularis (Willd.) Ohwi & H.Ohashi, Adzuki Bean
  • Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper, Urdbohne
  • Vigna radiata (L.) R. Wilczek, mung bean
  • Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc., Bambara peanut
  • Vigna umbellata (Thunb.) Ohwi & H.Ohashi, rice bean
  • Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp., Cowpea . Three subspecies are used by it:

Origin probably in India:

Origin in Asia or Africa:

  • Cyamopsis tetragonolobus (L.) Taub., Guar bean , from which guar gum is extracted, main cultivation areas India and Pakistan

The following African species are less well known:


Kidney bean

Many of the known species are from the New World :

  • Phaseolus vulgaris L., common bean
  • Phaseolus lunatus L., lima bean , moon bean
  • Phaseolus acutifolius A. Gray, tepary bean
  • Phaseolus coccineus L., fire bean , also called beetle bean in Austria

The kidney bean is the main bean used in Europe and North America today. These include numerous varieties in different colors: green bean, yellow wax bean, white bean, red kidney bean , speckled pinto bean, etc. (see French bean # varieties ). Before that, the broad bean ( Vicia faba ) was eaten in Europe .

Other traditional bean plants of the New World, of which only the roots appear to be non-toxic and are consumed, are:

Mixed origins

  • Canavalia ensiformis (L.) DC., Jack bean , origin in Central America
  • Canavalia gladiata (Jacq.) DC., Sword bean , origin in the Paleotropic (Africa or Asia)


  • Annual Report CIAT - Bean Program (Strategic Research and Regional Networks), CIAT, Palmira / Colombia, December 1994
  • Sigmund Rehm, Handbook of Agriculture and Food in the Developing Countries, Vol. 4, Special Plant Cultivation in the Tropics and Subtropics, Göttingen 1989
  • Current Topics in Breeding Common Beans, CIAT, Colombia, November 1988
  • White, JW 1981. A quantitative analysis of the growth and development of bean plants (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). PhD Thesis, University of California, Berkeley

Web links

Commons : Beans  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Bean  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Bean Recipes  - Learning and Teaching Materials