Lentil (botany)

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Lentil (Lens culinaris), illustration

Lentil ( Lens culinaris ), illustration

Eurosiden I
Order : Fabales (Fabales)
Family : Legumes (Fabaceae)
Subfamily : Butterflies (Faboideae)
Genre : Lenses ( Lens )
Type : lens
Scientific name
Lens culinaris

The lentil or Erve ( Lens culinaris ), also known as kitchen lentil , is a species of plant from the genus Linsen ( Lens ) from the subfamily of butterflies (Faboideae) within the legume family (Fabaceae or Leguminosae). It probably descends from the wild Lens orientalis .


Vegetative characteristics

The lentil grows as an annual herbaceous plant and reaches stature heights of 10 to 50 cm (75). The thin and ribbed stem, which is branched from the base, is downy hairy. A small tap root is formed.

The alternate leaves are pinnate in pairs with 3 to 8 pairs of leaflets. The almost sessile, rounded or pointed to pointed, usually entire-margined leaflets are 6 to 20 mm long and 2 to 5 mm wide. The runny rachis ends in a tendril . The 3 to 7 mm long stipules and the whole leaves are more or less hairy white.

Generative characteristics

The flowering period extends from April to September. The racemose , axillary inflorescences contain only one to three (four) flowers. The hermaphrodite and stalked flowers are zygomorphic and five-fold with a double flower envelope . The calyx with five priemlichen lobes is more hairy, like the flower stalks. The white or blue to purple-colored petals are the typical shape of the butterfly flower , which is 4.5 to 6.5 mm in size. The short-stalked ovary is bare.

When ripe between May and September, the brownish, glabrous and tipped, puffed, small legume is elongated and 10 to 15 mm long. The round, flat, about 1 to 2 mm thick seeds have a diameter of 3 to 8 mm. They are greenish, beige to brownish, reddish, orange or black.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 14.

Occurrence in Central Europe

The lentil thrives best on marly or sandy , calcareous, loose loam soils , which can be quite shallow.

The lentil is rarely grown in Central Europe today , it is very rare and mostly inconsistent in rubbish areas or on fallow land .

Useful plant


Only the seeds are consumed. Lentils are mainly grown in Spain , Russia , Chile , Argentina , the USA , Canada and the Middle East . In India alone there are over 50 varieties. In Germany they are grown in small quantities on the Swabian Alb (" Alb-Leisa "), in Hesse and in Lower Bavaria . The barren soils of the Swabian Alb are particularly suitable for growing the undemanding lentil.

Lentil plants
Ripe lentil plants

Lentils are usually grown as a mixed culture together with grain (e.g. with oats or barley), which provide the necessary climbing support. But camelina has proven to support fruit. Both are harvested together with a combine harvester. The harvest consists of a mixture of grains and lentils, which have to be separated in a technically complex process. Small fragments or adhesions from the grain can remain, which is why lentils are not always 100% gluten-free . Lentils can also be grown as legumes on poor soils and under unfavorable climates, but the overall harvest yields are too low and at the same time the technical effort is too high to be grown in Germany on a large scale at competitive prices. Therefore, lentils are grown almost exclusively in organic farming in Germany . The yields fluctuate between 200 and 1000 kg per hectare, depending on the weather and growing conditions.

Lentil seeds: peeled red and yellow lentils, brown plate lentils

Economical meaning

In 2018, 6.3 million tons of lentils were harvested worldwide. The ten largest producers collectively harvested 90.8% of the world's harvest.

Largest lens producers (2018)
rank country Quantity
(in t )
1 CanadaCanada Canada 2,092,136
2 IndiaIndia India 1,620,000
3 United StatesUnited States United States 381.380
4th TurkeyTurkey Turkey 353,000
5 AustraliaAustralia Australia 255.185
6th KazakhstanKazakhstan Kazakhstan 253,552
7th NepalNepal Nepal 249,491
8th RussiaRussia Russia 194,726
9 BangladeshBangladesh Bangladesh 176,633
10 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 172.173
world 6,333,354


Common in the trade are:

  • Plate lentils (mostly unpeeled, brown) - also canned
  • Yellow lentils and red lentils (smaller, already peeled and sometimes also halved) - cook more softly and mushy, typically used in Dals
  • Mountain lenses
  • Beluga lentils - very small and black, stay firm to the bite when cooked, look similar to beluga caviar
  • Puy lentils - green and black speckled lentils, also called French lentils, are firm to the bite after cooking. Originally from the volcanic soils around Le Puy in France

In German dishes, lentils are often cooked into a soup with greens and sausage . A little vinegar is also added regionally , which reduces the foam when cooking and supposedly improves digestibility. “ Lentils with spaetzle and string sausages ” is a specialty in the Swabian region .

Lentils are easier to digest than peas or beans and have a high protein content of 25 to 30% in the dry matter , which makes them a valuable and inexpensive food, especially with temporary fasting or a permanent vegetarian diet. Their high zinc content , which plays a central role in metabolism, is also remarkable . Because they're smaller than other legumes , they also take less soaking and cooking time.

Unpeeled lentils can also be germinated and then processed. There is evidence that germs can break down nutrients better. The germination process multiplies the level of B vitamins in lentils and other seeds. Lentil germ also contains vitamin C as opposed to the dried seeds.


The lens is likely derived from the wild lens orientalis from Asia Minor , which is common in western Asia. In the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic , lentils were used as food by northern Mediterranean hunters and gatherers. Finds from the Mesolithic layers (lithic assemblages VIII, IX according to Perlès) belong to the species Lens nigricans or Lens ervoides . Domestication is not to be assumed. However, the occurrences decreased increasingly due to the rise in sea level.

The lentil (Lens culinaris) has been one of the main useful plants of crops from the fertile crescent since the beginning of agriculture in the Neolithic . It was found in the cave of Franchthi in Greece as early as the earliest Neolithic layers, around 7000 BC. To date. Lentils have also been found in Bulgaria. Lenses have been used in Central European linear ceramics since the earliest phase, around 5500 BC. Proven.

In ancient Egypt lenses were one of the staple food . They are also mentioned in the Bible : “ Jacob gave him bread and the lentil dish , and he ate and drank and got up and went away. So Esau despised his firstborn. "( Genesis 25: 29-34  Lut )


Raw lentils contain indigestible or even toxic ingredients ( lectins and others) that are rendered harmless by cooking. If the lentils are soaked before cooking, the content of indigestible ingredients is reduced.

Average composition

The composition of the ingredients of lentils naturally fluctuates, both depending on the variety and due to different environmental conditions (soil, climate) and cultivation techniques (fertilization, plant protection).

Details per 100 g of edible portion:

water 11.5 g
protein 23.4 g
fat 1.5 g
carbohydrates 40.6 g *
Fiber 17.0 g
Minerals 2.7 g
sodium 7 mg
potassium 835 mg
magnesium 130 mg
Calcium 65 mg
manganese 1.5 mg
iron 8.0 mg
copper 740 µg
zinc 3.8 mg
phosphorus 410 mg
selenium 10 µg
Retinol (Vit. A 1 ) 17 µg
Thiamine (Vit. B 1 ) 480 µg
Riboflavin (Vit. B 2 ) 260 µg
Nicotinic acid (Vit. B 3 ) 2500 µg
β-carotene 100 µg
Pantothenic acid (Vit. B 5 ) 1600 µg
Vitamin B6 575 µg
Folic acid 170 µg
vitamin C 7 mg
essential and semi-essential amino acids
Arginine 1 2240 mg
Histidine 1 710 mg
Isoleucine 1190 mg
Leucine 2110 mg
Lysine 1890 mg
Methionine 220 mg
Phenylalanine 1400 mg
Threonine 1120 mg
Tryptophan 250 mg
Tyrosine 840 mg
Valine 1390 mg

* Difference calculation
1 semi-essential
1 mg = 1000 µg

The physiological calorific value is 1144 kJ (270 kcal) per 100 g of edible portion.

Web links

Commons : Lens ( Lens culinaris )  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikibooks: Recipes with Lentils  - Learning and Teaching Materials


  • Bojian Bao, Nicholas J. Turland: Lens. : Lens culinaris. P. 577 - same text online . In: Wu Zheng-yi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (Eds.): Flora of China. Volume 10: Fabaceae. Science Press / Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing / St. Louis 2010, ISBN 978-1-930723-91-7 (sections description, distribution and systematics).
  • Syed Irtifaq Ali: Papilionaceae. Lens culinaris at Tropicos.org. In: Flora of Pakistan . Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis (Description, Distribution, and Systematics Sections).
  • James A. Duke: Handbook of LEGUMES of World Economic Importance. Plenum Press, Springer, 1981, ISBN 978-1-4684-8153-2 (Reprint), pp. 110-115.
  • The Encyclopedia of Seeds. CABI, 2006, ISBN 0-85199-723-6 , p. 376 f.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Lens culinaris medic., Kitchen lens. In: FloraWeb.de.
  2. ^ A b Daniel Zohary: The wild progenitor and the place of origin of the cultivated lentil: Lens culinaris. In: Economic Botany. Volume 26, No. 4, 1972, pp. 326-332, doi: 10.1007 / BF02860702 .
  3. G. Ladizinsky: The origin of lentil and its wild gene pool. In: Euphytica. Volume 28, No. 1, 1979, pp. 179-187, doi: 10.1007 / BF00029189 .
  4. Priyanka Verma, Tilak R. Sharma, Prem S. Srivastava, MZ Abdin, Sabhyata Bhatia: Exploring genetic variability within lentil (Lens culinaris Medik.) And across related legumes using a newly developed set of microsatellite markers. In: Molecular Biology Reports. 2014, pp. 1-19, doi: 10.1007 / s11033-014-3431-z .
  5. ^ Erich Oberdorfer : Plant-sociological excursion flora for Germany and neighboring areas. 8th edition. Verlag Eugen Ulmer, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-8001-3131-5 , p. 607.
  6. a b Dietmar Aichele, Heinz-Werner Schwegler: The flowering plants of Central Europe . 2nd Edition. tape 2 : Yew family to butterfly family . Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-440-08048-X .
  7. ^ Alb-Leisa - Lentils from the Swabian Alb on lauteracher.de.
  8. Lenses from Hessen on hessisches-hochland.de.
  9. Bernd Horneburg: A breath of fresh air for an old cultivated plant - lentils in organic cultivation, their history and use. 1st edition, Dreschflegel eV and Institute for Plant Production and Plant Breeding of the University of Göttingen, Göttingen 2003, p. 21.
  10. a b Crops> Lentils. In: FAO production statistics for 2018. fao.org, accessed on March 17, 2020 .
  11. ^ MA Davila, E. Sangronis, M. Granito: Germinated or fermented legumes: food or ingredients of functional food. In: National Center for Biotechnology Information , December 2003, PMID 15125075 .
  12. JM Hansen: The palaeoethnobotany of Franchthi cave (Excavations of Franchthi Cave, Greece, Fascicle 7) , Indiana University Press, Indianapolis, 1991, ISBN 978-0253319791 .
  13. Eleni Asouti, Maria Ntinou, Ceren Kabukcu, The impact of environmental change on Palaeolithic and Mesolithic plant use and the transition to agriculture at Franchthi Cave, Greece. Plos-One 13/11, Pe0207805. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207805 .
  14. Elena Marinova: Agriculture and Land Use in Neolithic Bulgaria: The Archaeobotanical Perspective. In: AN Nice (ed.): Interdisciplinary research on cultural heritage on the Balkan Peninsula , 2011, ISBN 978-954-8587-07-5 .
  15. receipt?
  16. German Research Institute for Food Chemistry (DFA), Garching (Hrsg.): Food table for practice . The little souci · specialist · herb. 4th edition. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Stuttgart 2009, ISBN 978-3-8047-2541-6 , p. 239 .