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Phaseolus vulgaris

Phaseolus vulgaris
Phaseolus vulgaris (Wikimedia).
One of the crop legumes experimented to explore its impact in Push-Pull Technology (see related article in Push-Pull Technology)

Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean,[2] string bean,[3] field bean,[3] flageolet bean,[3] French bean,[3] garden bean,[3] haricot bean,[3] pop bean,[3] or snap bean,[3] is a herbaceous annual plant grown worldwide for its edible fruit, either the dry seed or the unripe fruit, both of which are referred to as beans. The leaf is also occasionally used as avegetable, and the straw can be used for fodder. Along with other species of the bean genus (Phaseolus), it is classifiedbotanically into the legume family (Fabaceae), most of whose members acquire nitrogen through an association withrhizobia, a species of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

 The common bean is a highly variable species with a long history of cultivation. All of the wild members of the species have a climbing habit,[4] but there are many cultivars, classified as bush beans, or pole beans depending on their style of growth. These include the kidney bean, the navy bean, the pinto bean, and the wax bean.[3] The other major types of commercially-grown bean are the runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) and the broad bean (Vicia faba).

Production of beans is well distributed worldwide, with countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, South and North America among the top bean growers. Brazil and India are the largest producers of dry beans, while China produces, by far, the largest quantity of green beans. Worldwide, 23 million tonnes of dry common beans and 17.1 million tonnes of green beans were grown in 2010.

The wild Phaseolus vulgaris was native to the Americas and was domesticated separately in Mesoamerica and in the southern Andes region, giving the domesticated bean two gene pools which remain separate to this day.[5] Along withsquash and maize, beans are one of the "Three Sisters" central to indigenous North American agriculture.


The common bean is a highly variable species with a long history. Bush varieties form erect bushes 20–60 cm (8–20 in) tall, while pole or running varieties form vines 2–3 m (7–10 ft) long. All varieties bear alternate, green or purple leaves, which are divided into three oval, smooth-edged leaflets, each 6–15 cm (2–6 in) long and 3–11 cm (1–4 in) wide. The white, pink, or purpleflowers are about 1 cm long, and they give way to pods 8–20 cm (3–8 in) long and 1–1.5 cm wide. These may be green, yellow, black, or purple in color, each containing 4–6 beans. The beans are smooth, plump, kidney-shaped, up to 1.5 cm long, range widely in color, and are often mottled in two or more colors.

Dry beans

Similar to other beans, the common bean is high in starchprotein and dietary fiber and is an excellent source of ironpotassium,seleniummolybdenumthiaminevitamin B6, and folate.

Dry beans will keep indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but as time passes, their nutritive value and flavor degrade and cooking times lengthen. Dried beans are almost always cooked by boiling, often after being soaked in water for several hours. While the soaking is not strictly necessary, it shortens cooking time and results in more evenly textured beans. In addition, soaking beans removes 5 to 10 percent of the gas-producing sugars that can cause flatulence for some people.[6] The methods include simple overnight soaking and the power soak method in which beans are boiled for three minutes and then set aside for 2–4 hours. Before cooking, the soaking water is drained off and discarded. Dry common beans take longer to cook than most pulses: cooking times vary from one to four hours, but are substantially reduced with pressure cooking.

In Mexico, Central America and South America the traditional spice used with beans is epazote, which is also said to aid digestion. In East Asia a type of seaweed, kombu, is added to beans as they cook for the same purpose. Salt, sugar, and acidic foods such as tomatoes may harden uncooked beans, resulting in seasoned beans at the expense of slightly longer cooking times.

Dry beans may also be bought cooked and canned as refried beans, or whole with watersalt, and sometimes sugar.

Green bean and wax beans

Main article: Green beans

The three commonly known types of green beans are: string or snap beans, which may be round or have a flat pod; stringless or French beans, which lack a tough, fibrous "string" running along the length of the pod; and runner beans, which belong to a separate species, Phaseolus coccineus. Green beans may have a purple rather than green pod, which changes to green when cooked.[7] Wax beans are Phaseolus vulgaris beans that have a yellow[4] or white pod. Wax bean cultivars are commonly grown;[4] the plants are often of the bush form.[4]

Compared to dry beans, green and wax beans provide less starch and protein and more vitamin A and vitamin C. Green beans and wax beans are often steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles.

Shelling beans

Shell, shelled, or shelling beans are beans removed from their pods before being cooked or dried. Common beans can be used as shell beans, but the term also refers to other species of beans whose pods are not typically eaten, such as lima beanssoybeanspeas, and fava beans. Fresh shell beans are nutritionally similar to dry beans, but are prepared more like a vegetable, often being steamed, fried, or made into soups.

Popping beans

The nuña is an Andean subspecies, Phaseolus vulgaris subsp. nunas (formerly Phaseolus vulgaris Nuñas Group), with round, multicolored seeds that resemble pigeon eggs. When cooked on high heat, the bean explodes, exposing the inner part, in the manner of popcorn and other puffed grains.


The toxic compound phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin, is present in many common bean varieties, but is especially concentrated in red kidney beans. White kidney beans contain about a third as much toxin as the red variety; broad beans (Vicia faba) contain 5 to 10% as much as red kidney beans.[8]

Phytohaemagglutinin can be deactivated by boiling beans; ten minutes at boiling point (100 °C (212 °F)) are sufficient to degrade the toxin, but not to cook the beans, the U.S Food and Drug Administration recommends boiling for 30 minutes to ensure they reach a sufficient temperature for long enough to completely destroy the toxin.[9] For dry beans, the FDA also recommends an initial soak of at least 5 hours in water which should then be discarded.[8] Outbreaks of poisoning have been associated with cooking kidney beans in slow cookers.[8]

The primary symptoms of phytohaemagglutinin poisoning are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Onset is from one to three hours after consumption of improperly prepared beans, and symptoms typically resolve within a few hours.[8] Consumption of as few as four or five raw, soaked kidney beans can cause symptoms.[8]

Beans are high in purines, which are metabolized to uric acid. Uric acid is not a toxin as such, but may promote the development or exacerbation of gout. For this reason, people with gout have been advised in the past to limit their consumption of beans.[10] However, more recent research has questioned this association, finding that moderate intake of purine-rich foods is not associated with increased risk of gout.[11]

Canned red kidney beans, on the other hand, are safe to use immediately.[12][13][14]


Many well-known bean varieties belong to this species, and none of the lists below are in any way exhaustive. Both bush and running (pole) varieties exist. The colors and shapes of pods and seeds vary over a wide range.

 Black turtle beans

The Black turtle bean has small, shiny black seeds. It is especially popular in Latin American cuisine.

Cranberry and borlotti beans

Cranberry beans originated in Colombia as the cargamanto bean. Borlotti or Roman beans are a variety of cranberry bean bred in Italy to have a thicker skin. They are much used in Mediterranean cuisine.

Flageolet beans

Flageolet beans are often eaten in France. The seeds are small, light green, and kidney shaped. The texture is firm yet creamy if shelled and cooked when fresh but semi-dry.

Kidney beans

Kidney beans, also known as red beans, are named for their visual resemblance in shape and color to kidneys. They are commonly used in chili soup chili con carne and are an integral part of the cuisine in northern regions of India. They are also used in New Orleans and much of southern Louisiana for the classic Monday Creole dish of red beans and rice.

Pea beans

A type of Phaseolus vulgaris called pea bean has been recorded in Britain since the 16th century.[15] In the US the name "pea bean" is also used to describe small white beans, and the same name is used for Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis, also called yard-long bean and cowpea.[16] The seeds of the British pea bean are bicolored red-brown and white. The plants are a typical climbing bean. The beans are either eaten in the pod like French beans or they may be harvested when mature and eaten as other dried beans.[17]

Pink beans

Pink beans are small, pale pink, oval-shaped beans also known by the Spanish name habichuelas rosadas.[18] The Santa Maria pinquito (Spanglish = pink and small), is commercially grown on the mesas above Santa Maria, California, and is a necessary ingredient in Santa Maria Style BBQ.

Pinto beans

Pinto beans are named for their mottled skin. They are the most common bean in the United States[19] and northwestern Mexico,[20] and are most often eaten whole in broth or mashed and refried. Either whole or mashed, they are a common filling for burritos. The young pods may also be harvested and cooked as green pinto beans.

White beans

Navy beans or haricot beans are particularly popular in the United Kingdom and the United States. Other white beans include cannellini, a popular variety in central and southern Italy that is related to the kidney bean. White beans are the most abundant plant-based source of phosphatidylserineknown.[21]

 Yellow beans

Sinaloa Azufrado, Sulphur, Mayocoba, and Peruano (also called canary) are types of yellow beans.

Peruano beans (also called canary or mayacoba beans) are small, oval, yellow beans about 1/2 inch (1 cm) long with a thin skin. They have a creamy texture when cooked. Despite the name (peruvian beans in Spanish), they are native to Mexico. Yellow beans are uncommon in the United States due to a controversial patent issued in 1999 to John Proctor, who selected and named a strain of yellow bean from seeds he brought back from Mexico. U.S. Patent No. 5,894,079 (the Enola or yellow bean patent) granted POD-NERS, LLC., exclusive right to import and sell yellow beans in the United States from 1999 through 2008, when the patent was rejected after reexamination.[22][23] 


In 2010, total world production of dry beans was 23 million metric tons, harvested from over 30 million hectares.[24] World production of green beans in 2010 was 17.7 million ton, harvested from 15.1 million hectares.[24]

Other uses

 Bean leaves have been used to trap bedbugs in houses.[25] Microscopic hairs (trichomes) on the bean leaves entrap the insects.[25]

From ancient times, beans were used as device in various methods of divination. Fortune-telling using beans is called favomancy.

See also


  1.  "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  2. Jump up^ Gentry, Howard Scott (1969). "Origin of the Common Bean, Phaseolus vulgaris". Economic Botany (New York: New York Botanical Garden Press) 23(1): 55–69. doi:10.1007/BF02862972JSTOR 4253014.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i "Phaseolus vulgaris L.". Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. August 19, 2010. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  4. Jump up to:a b c d Phillips, R.; Rix, M. (1993). Vegetables. New York: Random House.ISBN 9780679750246.
  5. Jump up^ Paul Gepts (December 1998). "Origin and evolution of common bean: past events and recent trends"HortScience 33 (7): 1124–1130.
  6. Jump up^ Rombauer, Irma S. The Joy of Cooking. Scribner, ISBN 0-684-81870-1, p. 271.
  7. Jump up^ Press, L. (2002). The Bean Book: Over Seventy Incredible Recipes. Globe Pequot Press. ISBN 9781585744732.
  8. Jump up to:a b c d e "Bad Bug Book: Handbook of Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins: Phytohaemagglutinin". United StatesFood and Drug Administration. Retrieved 2014-01-07.
  9. Jump up^ "Bad Bug Book (2012)" (pdf). Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook: Phytohaemagglutinin. Food and Drug Administration. 2012. Retrieved 26 December 2013. "Consumers should boil the beans for at least 30 minutes to ensure that the product reaches sufficient temperature"
  10. Jump up^ "Kidney Beans". The world's healthiest foods. Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  11. Jump up^ Choi HK, Atkinson K, Karlson EW, Willett W, Curhan G (March 2004). "Purine-rich foods, dairy and protein intake, and the risk of gout in men". N. Engl. J. Med. 350 (11): 1093–103. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa035700.PMID 15014182.
  12. Jump up^
  13. Jump up^
  14. Jump up^
  15. Jump up^ Gerard's Herbal 1597 p. 1040, "The party coloured kidney bean of EgyptPhaseolus aegypticus
  16. Jump up^ "Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp. subsp. sesquipedalis (L.) Verdc.". Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture. December 6, 1996. Retrieved September 22, 2013.
  17. Jump up^ – The National Vegetable Society – the Pea bean[dead link]
  18. Jump up^ "Pink Bean – Definition and Cooking Information". Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  19. Jump up^ "Maize 2003 CGC Meeting". Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  20. Jump up^ [1][dead link]
  21. Jump up^ Souci SW, Fachmann E, Kraut H (2008). Food Composition and Nutrition Tables. Medpharm Scientific Publishers Stuttgart.
  22. Jump up^ "The Enola Bean Patent Controversy: Biopiracy, Novelty And Fish-And-Chips". Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  23. Jump up^ "Appeal 2007-3938" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-01-14.
  24. Jump up to:a b Query page. UN Food & Agriculture Organisation
  25. Jump up to:a b Szyndler, M.W.; Haynes, K.F.; Potter, M.F.; Corn, R.M.; Loudon, C. (2013)."Entrapment of bed bugs by leaf trichomes inspires microfabrication of biomimetic surfaces"Journal of the Royal Society Interface 10 (83): 20130174. doi:10.1098/rsif.2013.0174ISSN 1742-5662.

Further reading

  • Meers, E.; et al. (2007). "Phytoavailability assessment of heavy metals in soils by single extractions and accumulation by Phaseolus vulgaris".Environmental and Experimental Botany 60 (3): 385–396. doi:10.1016/j.envexpbot.2006.12.010.

External links


Article from Wikipedia