Kidney bean

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Kidney bean
Kidney beans with unripe fruits

Kidney beans with unripe fruits

Order : Fabales (Fabales)
Family : Legumes (Fabaceae)
Subfamily : Butterflies (Faboideae)
Tribe : Phaseoleae
Genre : Phaseolus
Type : Kidney bean
Scientific name
Phaseolus vulgaris
Freshly germinating kidney beans: epigeic cotyledon spreading
Flowers of a kidney bean
Phaseolus vulgaris

The common bean ( Phaseolus vulgaris ), also known as green bean , cut bean or Austrian Fisole , is a species of plant from the subfamily of the butterfly family (Faboideae). In Germany it is almost always meant by the term “ bean ”, which can also refer to many other types of crops. Depending on the growth form, the species is also known as the French bean or the runner bean .

Garden beans belong to the grain legumes botanically and to the protein plants according to agricultural use. In the tropics (especially in Central and South America ), because of their high protein content, haricot beans play an elementary role in the basic needs of the population, as cassava and plantains only have a low protein content. With 23% crude protein content, grain legumes have the second highest protein value of food crops after soybeans . Haricot beans contain lectins ( phaseolin ) that are toxic to humans and are destroyed by cooking. Beans and pods are therefore only edible to a limited extent.

The common bean was voted Vegetable of the Year 2004 by the Association for the Preservation of Crop Diversity eV (VEN).


The kidney bean is an annual plant . The leaves are threefold, side shoots arise in their axils. Of the two varieties , the runner bean grows two to four meters high and winds upwards on supports as a left-winder (when viewed from above, counterclockwise). The French bean has a limited growth in length, does not wind and only grows to 30 to 60 cm high. The French bean stops growing after four to eight internodes and forms terminal inflorescences .

The main root is weak. Many side roots branch off from it, which are up to 30 cm long. On the lateral roots are the root nodules characteristic of legumes with the nitrogen-fixing , symbiotic nodule bacteria of the species Rhizobium leguminosarum .

Haricot beans develop different growth habitus:

  • determinate: bush-forming, limited growth, vegetation point ends at the main shoot
  • indeterminate: bush-forming, short main shoot, terminal bud of the main shoot remains vegetative
  • growing indefinitely, weakly twining, long main shoot
  • Unlimited growing, strong winds, depending on location and day length

The flowers are alternate to several in clusters . A flower is one to two centimeters long. Cross-pollination is possible, but self-pollination prevails . In Central Europe, pollination takes place before the flowers open. The European varieties are all day- neutral , the time until flowering depends on the amount of heat.

Bean seed starch grains microscopic

The sleeves are flat or round in cross-section and are very variable. Their color can be green, yellow, blue, purple-striped or marbled black. Their length ranges from 5 to 25 cm. The seeds also vary in size, ranging in color from white, light brown to dark brown and speckled white and red. The thousand grain weight is between 250 and 530 g, depending on the variety. The seeds are starchy.

The germination is epigeic , the thick storage cotyledons come out of the ground and unfold, but die off quite quickly after emaciation.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 22.


The kidney bean is an annual climber and a left winder. The sleep movements of the leaves are made possible by fluctuations in the cell sap in the leaf and pinnate joints. With the French bean , the sleeping position begins at 6 o'clock in the evening, following an internal rhythm. At 6 o'clock in the morning the leaves rise again. This is an adaptation to the equatorial, tropical short day of their homeland. The separation of water droplets, called guttation , occurs through glandular hairs, so-called hydathodes . The root nodules are populated with nitrogen-binding bacteria.

The flowers are strictly pre-male "pollen butterfly flowers" with a "stylus brush folding device". The anthers are opened in the flower bud. Only strong bumblebees can open the flowers. Also, self-pollination is possible.

Flowering time is from June to September.

The fruits are pods. In the cultivated forms, the fruits usually remain closed. The wild form is a desiccation spreader.

The cotyledons serve as a nutrient store. They unfold above the ground, where they turn green, one speaks of epigeic germination . The sprout is relatively well developed, so that even the first leaves can be seen.


Raw beans are highly toxic. Green beans have a similar effect. Main active ingredient is the lectins belonging toxalbumin phasine . Phasin causes erythrocytes to agglutinate and stimulates the mitosis of lymphocytes .

  • Phasin causes vomiting, diarrhea and absorption disorders in the intestines. It can lead to severe, possibly fatal hemorrhagic gastroenteritis , further to tonic convulsions, shock, hypokalemia and, as a result, to changes in the electrocardiogram .
  • Phasin is destroyed by boiling, sufficiently boiled beans are harmless.
  • Green beans produce dermatitis known as "bean dross" in canning factories in people who are susceptible to it.

Cultural history

The two original domestication centers. One in Central America, the other along the Andes. From there the cultivation spread over both continents, since the 16th century worldwide.

The kidney bean is only known in culture. Its wild stem form is likely to be the Phaseolus aborigineus native to South America . The oldest finds of the common bean come from the Guitarrero Cave in Peru from about 6000 BC. And from Pichasca in Chile from about 2700 BC. The next finds come from the time of 300 BC. Until about the birth of Christ, the time of the Central American civilizations. The finds are both seeds and pods. In general, the seeds are smaller than today's varieties, but much more variable in shape, color and pattern.

In pre-Columbian times, kidney bean cultivation became very widespread in America. Along with pumpkin and corn, the kidney bean was the most important food crop ( milpa ). In the north, the cultivation extended to the St. Lawrence River , from where Jacques Cartier described the cultivation. De Soto described the bean from Florida in 1539, Lescarbot from Maine in 1608 . All early European authors also emphasize the great importance of beans in the diet of the Indians. The Inca common bean by early Spanish reports (was Inca Garcilaso de la Vega ) the food of the lower classes, while the upper class, the moon bean ( Phaseolus lunatus preferred).

While the North and Central American wild clans are also assigned to Phaseolus vulgaris , the wild relatives in South America are assigned to Phaseolus aborigineus . The North and Central American wild clans are interpreted as being introduced.

The bean came to Europe in the 16th century. The oldest illustration from Germany comes from Leonhart Fuchs' book of herbs in 1543, who calls it "Welsch Bonen". Further early mentions come from Georg Oelinger (1553) and Kaspar Bauhin . In Europe it displaced the beans cultivated up to then, the field bean and the cow bean . The Latin and medieval name for the cow bean ( fasiolum , faseolum , phaseolum ) was now transferred to the new, predominant garden bean.


Genetic diversity and breeding goals

A selection of colors and shapes for haricot beans
Black beans
White beans

As a result of the domestication of the bean 7,000 or 8,000 years ago, mainly in the highlands of Mexico, it is now an important crop for a number of climates and different land use systems worldwide. In the course of the first domestication phase and the subsequent evolution (cultivation, selection , migration and genetic drift ), the morphological , physiological and genetic properties of today's bean varieties changed. As an adaptation to the most diverse geographic locations and climatic zones, a large genetic variability developed in the strains of Rhizobium phaseoli and the most diverse diseases and pests.

As a result of the hybridization of the individual genotypes, beans provide an even higher level of genetic variability, which makes basic research and breeding work in plant physiology much easier.

In beans, a distinction is made between the Andean (Andean highlands of Peru and Bolivia ) and the Mesoamerican ( Mexico and Central America ) gene pool according to their genetic origin . In both gene centers , different bean genotypes were developed for the local soil and climate conditions. The wild form of P. vulgaris was first domesticated along the Andean arc from Argentina to Colombia . Along with pumpkins, beans are the oldest cultivated crops in America and are still one of the most important crops of smallholder subsistence agriculture in Latin America and Africa .

In the seed bank of the CIAT (IBN - International Bean Germplasm Nursery) are conserved over 10,000 different Bohnenherkünfte with different resistance genes, of which only 2,000 genotypes from Rwanda , Burundi , Honduras and Chile .

The main goals in plant breeding include the qualitative improvement of ingredients (e.g. amino acid pattern ), the ecophysiological adaptation and yield stability for suboptimal locations (e.g. abiotic stress such as drought tolerance, soil acidity etc.) and resistance breeding to diseases and pests. Genetic studies of various bean lines have shown that there is still great breeding potential, especially for qualitative improvement.

Export crops and market crops ( cash crops ) such as grain and soybeans as oilseeds still provide the highest proportion of raw vegetable protein production and have traditionally been cultivated more intensively than protein crops such as legumes . The cultivation area for the beans also remained largely constant from 1972 to 1981.


There are thousands of varieties. For the cultivation one subdivides according to the use into:

  • Fillet beans , varieties with a fleshy pod, which are mainly harvested and used as green beans with a green pod,
  • Core beans or dry boiled beans , in which the use of the seeds (called bean kernels) is in the foreground and
  • Onion beans , varieties that, depending on the time of harvest, can be used both to obtain green pods and to harvest bean kernels.

Wax beans are fillet beans with yellow pods, pearl beans are mostly small-seeded beans in which the round seeds protrude in the pod and look like a string of pearls. Princess beans are particularly young harvested and therefore finer fillet beans.
Outside the season, fillet beans , some of which are imported by air freight, are marketed as
Kenya beans from various African countries .
In Germany common types of fillet beans are: Neckarkönigin, Saxa, Delinel, Blauhilde; with wax beans: best of all, Neckargold; as onion without: tongue of fire.

Kidney beans

Kidney bean is originally just another name for the garden bean, but today it also refers to certain red-seeded varieties. The expression kidney bean (in German: "kidney bean") was still used in the 19th century in the English-speaking world for all representatives of the genus Phaseolus , in contrast to the beans that are now known as field beans. The decisive factor was the pronounced kidney shape of the seeds. Although the term is still in use today for the French bean as a species in the English-speaking world, it is used colloquially primarily for the large, red seeds of the bean. Varieties of kidney bean, large-seeded, red to pink: Red Kidney, Redkloud, Diacol-Calima.

Pinto bean

The Pinto Bean (Spanish: frijol pinto ) is red-brown speckled with beige tone - the color resembles a quail egg, now shall Wachtelbohne called. It is the most common variety of the kidney bean used in the United States and northwestern Mexico . The pinto bean is boiled in the softening water, mashed and partially fried. Whole or pureed, it is often used as a filling for burritos . In the southwestern United States, the pinto bean is seen as an important symbol of regional identity, especially among residents of Mexican descent. Together with the chilli fruit , it is the official vegetable of the state of New Mexico . Varieties of the pinto bean are: Sierra, Burke, Othello, Maverick.

Further commercial bean types of national importance are:

  • big-seeded, white: 'Alubia', 'Cristal'
  • small-seeded, black: 'Rio Tibagi', 'Porrillo sintético', 'ICA-Pijao'
  • small-seeded, white: 'Arroz', 'California', 'White', 'Sanilac'

A new variety of Prim Beans grown using traditional methods is low in tannins and hardly leads to gas.



Bean cultivation in Belém / Paraíba, Brazil
Bean field

As "plastic" plants, beans are adapted to a wide variety of climates and ecological conditions. Only a few plants show such a great variety of adaptation mechanisms at different locations as well as growth types and vegetation lengths.

Phaseolus vulgaris grows best in regions with an average temperature of 18-30 ° C during the growing season. Evenly distributed rainfall and relatively cool nights below 20 ° C promote growth and seed yield. In the cool highlands with little rainfall, the cultivation of large-seeded cultivars is preferred, as rapid and deep root development opens up a larger volume of soil and thus unexpected and short dry periods can be bridged. Dry periods that last longer than two weeks can cause lasting damage to the beans in the tropics , especially during flowering , and yield reductions occur. In the humid tropics on poorly drained locations, varieties with a shallower root system are advantageous in order to withstand waterlogging in some cases. Heavy precipitation combined with high humidity can promote the development of numerous fungal diseases. Most commercial bean varieties are compared to soybean day-neutral , meaning the photoperiod short day / longday has no demonstrable effect on the induction of flowering.

Soils with an average pH value between 4.5 and 8.0 are suitable . Deficiency symptoms such as a lack of phosphorus occur in acidic soils, and phosphorus can no longer be absorbed by the roots in sufficient quantities. Dissolved metals like aluminum and manganese can lead to toxic symptoms. High-yielding bean varieties are only insufficiently supplied by the N fixation; here they have to be re-fertilized with nitrogen (up to approx. 10 kg N / ha).

Cultivation methods and production processes

In Latin America and Africa they are most commonly used in mixed smallholder crops together with maize or coffee . The beans are grown either at the same time as the maize is sown or at different times in order to take advantage of the interactions between nitrogen fixation. Beans were grown in coffee plantations in Colombia in order to secure the basic food supply for the pickers. The reason that beans are seldom grown in larger crops is due to their high susceptibility to disease and pests, low and unstable yields, high market price fluctuations and local preferences for a very specific type of seed. The semi-arid highlands of Mexico are the largest contiguous bean-growing area in the world. Although other crops with higher contribution margins such as maize have displaced the beans in many places, local bean varieties are one of the best options for land use in this zone with low and irregular rainfall. In Brazil , beans are grown in all states, with the most fertile and productive soils usually being planted with profitable soybeans and beans being increasingly displaced to less favorable and less productive locations. This shift to the marginal soils leads to new risks such as the golden mosaic virus and yield losses due to drought and low soil fertility.

The sowing depth is usually no more than 2.5 cm in order to accelerate rapid growth. The soil is thoroughly worked beforehand, should be set down, at least 25 cm deep and have a low population of weeds (correct term for arable wild plants or arable vegetal flora) in order to expose the beans to the least possible competitive pressure from other plants. In the tropics, if possible, sowing is done at the beginning of the rainy season in order to receive sufficient rainfall during the entire vegetation period, but in the temperate latitudes only when night frosts are no longer expected and the average temperature is above 12 ° C.

In bean cultivation, herbicides such as alachlor , fluorodifene and metolachlor are used pre-emergence (before sowing) and bentazone in post-emergence (after sowing).

In order to achieve high seed yields, nitrogen is used to stimulate vegetative growth and a high leaf area index. In addition, phosphorus-poor tropical soils require additional application of P, as phosphates are firmly fixed in Ultisolen and Oxisolen , for example . If mineral fertilization is out of the question for cost reasons, the soil biology can be sustainably improved through green manure and mulch management. The different rhizobia strains are highly specialized and adapted to the respective bean genotype and find their optimum with a sufficient supply of trace elements such as calcium , molybdenum , cobalt , iron and copper , a soil temperature not above 32 ° C and a high assimilate supply from the plant. On locations with little shade and strong sunlight, a dense, closed plant stand prevents excessive soil heating and damage to the rhizobia.

The beans are ready to be harvested with a water content of around 18%, the pods must be dry and capable of being threshed.

Economical meaning

The largest bean producers in the world

In 2016, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, around 23.6 million tons of green beans and 26.8 million tons of dry beans were harvested worldwide. The acreage was 1.6 million hectares for green beans and 29.4 million hectares for dry beans.

The following tables provide an overview of the 10 largest producers of green and dry beans worldwide.

green beans metric tons
China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 18,692,188
IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 930.775
IndiaIndia India 661.785
TurkeyTurkey Turkey 651.094
ThailandThailand Thailand 314,625
EgyptEgypt Egypt 287,575
SpainSpain Spain 173.191
MoroccoMorocco Morocco 165.844
ItalyItaly Italy 162,952
BangladeshBangladesh Bangladesh 128,676
world 23,595,719
dry beans metric tons
MyanmarMyanmar Myanmar 5,189,977
IndiaIndia India 3,897,611
BrazilBrazil Brazil 2,615,832
United StatesUnited States United States 1,269,916
TanzaniaTanzania Tanzania 1,158,039
China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 1,127,127
MexicoMexico Mexico 1,088,767
UgandaUganda Uganda 1.008.410
KenyaKenya Kenya 728.160
EthiopiaEthiopia Ethiopia 483.923
world 26,833,395

In 2016 the harvest volumes for green beans were 45,634 t in Germany, 9,564 t in Switzerland and 3,846 t in Austria.


All beans in the Phaseolus group are poisonous when raw. The poison lectin ( phasin , a seed glycoprotein ) only decomposes when heated (in boiling water) to more than 70 ° C.

Immature pods

In Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, the not yet ripe pods of kidney beans are often eaten as vegetables (green beans, yellow wax beans), a well-known German dish made from them are sour beans and bean salad made from green beans. The dried beans , which are common in Switzerland, are obtained when dried . Green beans can also be part of vegetable stews.

Dried beans

The ripe, dry beans are a widely used staple food that can be stored easily and for a long time. As a staple food in many countries, the comparatively cheap beans cover a large part of the protein supply of the poorer sections of the population.

Beans are used in many regional variants as a soup and stew ingredient, for example in the bean stew of German cuisine, in Serbian bean soup , in Italian minestrone and in baked beans , which are also sold in tins. In France there is cassoulet , in Spain fabada . Beans are a basic component of the Brazilian national dish " Feijoada " and, depending on the region, can be a component of chili con carne . The Indian dal is a dish that is made from a wide variety of legumes, of which Rajma Dal is a variant made from red kidney beans. Gallo Pinto is a dish made from beans and rice.

Flageolet beans

In the degree of ripeness between the "green beans" and the "dry boiled beans" or "grain beans" lie the flageolet beans, where the still unripe, white kernels are harvested when the pods have a leather-like ripeness. They are considered a delicacy and are only available seasonally.

Bean leaves

In the Balkans in particular, the bean leaves are used to get rid of bed bugs . They are lavishly sprinkled around the entire bed in the evening. The bed bugs get caught in the fine hairs of the leaves and can be picked up with the leaves the next morning.

Nutritional physiology

The seeds of the kidney bean are high in protein and contain a number of essential amino acids , but the protein does not cover all of the essential amino acids . The carbohydrates of the bean are in oligosaccharoses, some of which cannot be broken down by humans. They contain large amounts of the minerals calcium , potassium , magnesium and iron (especially in the form of leghemoglobin ) as well as vitamins B2, B6, C, E, provitamin A ( beta-carotene ) and folic acid . The vitamin C supports the absorption of the iron contained, but is largely lost through cooking.

100 g of dried white beans contain on average:
Calorific value protein carbohydrates fat Fiber
991 kJ (227 kcal ) 21 g 35 g 2 g 23 g


100 g of dried white beans contain an average of minerals and vitamins:
sodium potassium Calcium magnesium phosphorus iron zinc β-carotene Vitamin E. Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B6 Folic acid vitamin C
4 mg 1340 mg 115 mg 140 mg 415 mg 6.5 mg 2.5 mg 400 µg 0.2 mg 0.50 mg 0.18 mg 0.43 mg 200 µg 3 mg

The consumption of beans can lead to increased gas formation in the large intestine and thus to flatulence . The reason for this is that certain triple sugars contained in beans , such as raffinose , cannot be digested by humans, but are metabolized by intestinal bacteria - with the release of digester gases . This leads to gas. One way to prevent this side effect is to soak the beans before cooking to wash out the sugars in question. However, minerals and water-soluble vitamins are also lost in the process. The other option is to take the enzyme α-galactosidase A , which splits raffinose into sucrose and galactose . The addition of spices such as asante , fennel , aniseed , coriander , cumin and caraway does not reduce the amount of gas produced, but has a relaxing effect on the intestinal muscles, which makes the gas less uncomfortable for some adults and especially young children.

Diseases and pests

Infested with bean rust

The following species are particularly important in Central Europe in the cultivation of kidney beans. The most important viral disease is the ordinary bean mosaic virus (bean common mosaic virus), which leads to the death of the affected parts of the plant and significant yield losses. Of lesser importance are the yellow mosaic virus of common bean (bean yellow mosaic virus), the Tabaknekrosevirus (tobacco necrosis virus) and alfalfa (alfalfa mosaic virus).

The most important bacterial disease is fatty spots, caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. Phaseolicola . It leads to severe losses in yield and quality. All leaves of a plant can dry up and fall off before flowering. Among the fungal pathogens, the most important economic pathogens are the stinging spot disease , among them Colletotrichum lindemuthianum . They usually already attack the seedlings and can lead to the death of the young plants, or at least greatly reduce the yield. Other diseases are bean blight ( Xanthomonas campestris pv. Phaseoli ), bean rust ( Uromyces appendiculatus ) and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum .

Among the animal pests, two are important. The black bean aphid ( Aphis fabae ) overwinters on Euonymus europaea and attacks the bean in May, where it can occur in large numbers in several generations, especially in June and July. The bean fly ( Phorbia platura ) lays its eggs on the bean seeds, on which the maggots then feed. The infestation is therefore colloquially referred to as bean worm.

As a storage pest, dried beans can be attacked by bean beetles ( Acanthoscelides obtectus ) from the seed beetle family .


Dried beans as counting stones gave the bean game , a variant of the popular Mancala games , its German name.

For Epiphany (January 6th), a bean used to be baked into the cake. Whoever found it was the bean king, sometimes there was also a white bean for the bean queen. When the king drank, there was a call: “The king drinks!” And everyone had to drink too. At this festival, the bean song was sung, which is where the phrase comes from: That's about the bean song to me.

Growing beans is the main theme of the award-winning Bohnanza card game and its numerous offshoots. Not only beans are represented in the true sense of the word, but also objects metaphorically called “beans” such as blue beans, cocoa beans or brandy beans.


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Web links

Commons : Kidney Bean  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Bean  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: runner bean  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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  4. ^ Sigmund Rehm: Handbook of Agriculture and Food in Developing Countries. Volume 4: Special crop production in the tropics and subtropics . Göttingen 1989, p. 266.
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  16. GRIN ( Memento of the original from September 15, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. ^ Sigmund Rehm: Handbook of Agriculture and Food in Developing Countries. Volume 4: Special crop production in the tropics and subtropics . Göttingen 1989, p. 267.
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  23. a b FAO production statistics 2016 ,, accessed on March 1, 2018
  24. According to the FAO, the group includes the following plants: Phaseolus spp .: kidney, haricot bean (Ph. Vulgaris); lima, butter bean (Ph. lunatus); adzuki bean (Ph. angularis); mungo bean, golden, green gram (Ph. aureus); black gram, urd (Ph. mungo); scarlet runner bean (Ph. coccineus); rice bean (Ph. calcaratus); moth bean (Ph. aconitifolius); tepary bean (Ph. acutifolius). Only species of Phaseolus should be included, though several countries also include certain types of beans. Commonly classified as Vigna (angularis, mungo, radiata, aconitifolia). In the past, these species were also classified as Phaseolus.
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