Yardlong bean (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis)

Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis, the yardlong bean, is also known as bora, the long-podded cowpea, asparagus bean, snake bean, or Chinese long bean. It is known as dau gok in Cantonese, jiang dou in Standard Chinese, thua fak yao in Thai andkacang panjang in Indonesian and Malay, sitaw in Tagalog, utong in Ilokano, bora in the West Indies and vali, Borboti in Bengali, India, eeril in Goa, India or đậu đũa (Vietnamese, literally: chopstick bean). Despite the name, the pods are actually only about half a yard long; the subspecies name sesquipedalis (one-and-a-half-foot-long) is a rather exact approximation of the pods’ length.

This plant is of a different genus than the common bean. It is a vigorous climbing annual vine. A variety of the cowpea, it is grown primarily for its strikingly long (35-75 cm) immature pods and has uses very similar to that of a green bean. The pods, which begin to form just 60 days after sowing, hang in pairs. They are best if picked for vegetable use before they reach full maturity. The plant is subtropical/tropical and most widely grown in the warmer parts ofSoutheastern Asia, Thailand, and Southern China. Yardlong beans are quick-growing and daily checking/harvesting is often a necessity. The many varieties of yardlong beans are usually distinguished by the different colors of their mature seeds. A traditional food plant inAfrica, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.
 
The crisp, tender pods are eaten both fresh and cooked. They are at their best when young and slender. They are sometimes cut into short sections for cooking uses. As a West Indian dish it is often stir-fried with potatoes and shrimp. They are used in stir-fries in Chinese cuisine. In Malaysian cuisine they are often stir-fried with chillies and shrimp paste (sambal) or used in cooked salads (kerabu). Another popular and healthful option is to chop them into very short sections and fry them in an omelette.

 

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Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus)

The Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), also known as the Goa bean and Asparagus Pea and Winged Pea, is a tropical legume plant native to New Guinea. It grows abundantly in hot, humid equatorial countries, from the Philippines and Indonesia to India, Burma,Thailand and Sri Lanka. It does well in humid tropics with high rainfall. There are also varieties that can be grown in most areas of the U.S..

 
The winged bean plant grows as a vine with climbing stems and leaves, 3–4 m in height. It is an herbaceous perennial, but can be grown as an annual. It is generally taller and notably larger than the Common bean. The bean pod is typically 15–22 cm (6–9 in) long and has four wings with frilly edges running lengthwise. The skin is waxy and the flesh partially translucent in the young pods. When the pod is fully ripe, it turns an ash-brown color and splits open to release the seeds. The large flower is a pale blue. The beans themselves are similar to soybeans in both use and nutritional content (being 29.8% to 39% protein).
 
The plant is one of the best nitrogen fixers with nodulation accomplished by the soil bacterium Rhizobium. Because of its ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, the plant requires very little or no fertilizers.
 
This bean has been called the “one species supermarket” because practically all of the plant is edible. The beans are used as a vegetable, but the other parts (leaves, flowers, and tuberous roots) are also edible. The tender pods, which are the most widely eaten part of the plant (and best eaten when under 1″ in length), can be harvested within two to three months of planting.
 
The flowers are often used to color rice and pastries. The flavor of the beans has a similarity to asparagus. The young leaves can be picked and prepared as a leaf vegetable, similar to spinach. The roots can be used as a root vegetable, similar to the potato, and have a nutty flavor; they are also much richer in protein than potatoes. The dried seeds can be useful as a flour and also to make a coffee-like drink. Each of these parts of the winged bean provide a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and other vitamins. The seeds contain 35% protein and 18% oil.

 

Velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens)

Mucuna pruriens is a tropical legume known as velvet bean or cowitch and by other common names (see below), found in Africa, India and the Caribbean. The plant is infamous for its extreme itchiness produced on contact, particularly with the young foliage and the seed pods. It has value in agricultural and horticultural use and has a range of medicinal properties. 

The plant is an annual, climbing shrub with long vines that can reach over 15 m in length. When the plant is young, it is almost completely covered with fuzzy hairs, but when older, it is almost completely free of hairs. The leaves are tripinnate, ovate, reverse ovate, rhombus shaped or widely ovate. The sides of the leaves are often heavily grooved and the tips are pointy. In youngM.pruriens plants, both sides of the leaves have hairs. The stems of the leaflets are two to three millimeters long. Additional adjacent leaves are present and are about 5 mm long.
The flower heads take the form of axially arrayed panicles. They are 15 to 32 cm long and havetwo to three, or many flowers. The accompanying leaves are about 12.5 mm long, the flower stand axes are from 2.5 to 5 mm. The bell is 7.5 to 9 mm long and silky. The sepals are longer or of the same length as the shuttles. The crown is purplish or white. The flag is 1.5 mm long. The wings are 2.5 to 3.8 cm long.
 
 In many parts of the world Mucuna pruriens is used as an important forage, fallow and green manure crop. Since the plant is a legume, it fixes nitrogen and fertilizes soil.
M.pruriens is a widespread fodder plant in the tropics. To that end, the whole plant is fed to animals as silage, dried hay or dried seeds. M. pruriens silage contains 11-23% crude protein, 35-40% crude fiber, and the dried beans 20-35% crude protein.
 
M.pruriens is sometimes used as a coffee substitute called “Nescafe” (not to be confused with the commercial brand Nescafé). Cooked fresh shoots or beans can also be eaten. This requires that they be soaked from at least 30 minutes to 48 hours in advance of cooking, or the water changed up to several times during cooking, since otherwise the plant can be toxic to humans. The above described process leaches out phtochemical compounds such as levodopa, making the product more suitable for consumption. If consumed in large quantities as food, unprocessed M pruriens is toxic to non ruminant mammals including humans.
 
Traditionally, M. pruriens has been used as an effective aphrodisiac. It is still used to increase libido in both men and women due to its dopamine inducing properties and in Ayurvedic medicine it is said to increase sperm count. Dopamine has a profound influence on sexual function. 

Mung bean (Vigna radiata)

The mung bean, also known as mungbean, mung, green gram, golden gram; or in other languages, choroko (in Swahili), mongomoongmoog (whole) or moog dal (split) (in Bengali , Marathi), munggo or monggo (in East Timor), is the seed of Vigna radiata. In Tamil it is known as paccaippayaru; when dehusked it is known as pāciparuppu. The split bean is known as pesara in Telugu.
 
The mung bean is one of many species recently moved from the genus Phaseolus to Vigna, and is still often seen cited as Phaseolus aureus or Phaseolus radiatus. These variations of nomenclature have been used regarding the same plant species
Mung beans are light yellow in color when their skins are removed. They can be made into mung bean paste by dehulling, cooking, and pulverizing the beans to a dry paste. In Hong Kong, dehulled mung beans and mung bean paste are made into ice cream or frozen ice pops. Mung bean paste is used as a common filling for Chinese mooncakes in East China and Taiwan. Also in China, the boiled and shelled beans are used as filling in glutinous rice dumplings eaten during the dragon boat festival.

 

 

Drumstick (Moringa oleifera)

Moringa oleifera, the word Moringa probably came from dravidian language Tamil and commonly referred to as “Shojne” in Bengali, “Munagakaya” in Telugu, “Shenano” in Rajasthani, “Shevaga” in Marathi, “Nuggekai” in Kannada, “Moringa” (from Tamil: Murungakai, Malayalam: Muringa, Konkani: Mashinga sanga), and Malunggáy in Filipino, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa, which is the only genus in the family Moringaceae. It is an exceptionally nutritious vegetable tree with a variety of potential uses. The tree itself is rather slender, with drooping branches that grow to approximately 10 m in height. In cultivation, it is often cut back annually to 1 meter or less and allowed to regrow so that pods and leaves remain within arm’s reach.

 
The “Moringa” tree is grown mainly in semi-arid, tropical, and subtropical areas, corresponding in the United States to USDA hardiness zones 9 and 10. While it grows best in dry sandy soil, it tolerates poor soil, including coastal areas. It is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree that is native to the southern foothills of theHimalayas in northwestern India.
 
The immature green pods called “drumstick” are probably the most valued and widely used part of the tree. They are commonly consumed in India and are generally prepared in a similar fashion to green beans and have a slight asparagus taste. The seeds are sometimes removed from more mature pods and eaten like peas or roasted like nuts. The flowers are edible when cooked, and are said to taste like mushrooms. The roots are shredded and used as a condiment in the same way as horseradish; however, it contains the alkaloid spirochin, a potentially fatal nerve-paralyzing agent. The presence of this compound is not worrying because large amounts are required to elicit deleterious effects, and spirochin even displays antibacterial properties when consumed in smaller amounts.
 
The leaves are highly nutritious, being a significant source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. The leaves are cooked and used like spinach. In addition to being used fresh as a substitute for spinach, its leaves are commonly dried and crushed into a powder, and used in soups and sauces.

 

Common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean, is an herbaceous annual plant domesticated independently in ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes, and now grown worldwide for its edible bean, popular both dry and as a green bean. The leaf is occasionally used as a leaf vegetable, and the straw is used for fodder. Beans, squash and maize constituted the “Three Sisters” that provided the foundation of Native American agriculture.

Botanically, the common bean is classified as a dicotyledon. Beans are a legume and thus acquire their nitrogen through an association with rhizobia, a species of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

Chickpea (Cicer arietinum)

The Asha (Cicer arietinum) (also garbanzo bean, chana (north India), Indian pea, ceci bean, Bengal gram) is an edible legume of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae. Chickpeas are high in protein and one of the earliest cultivated vegetables; 7,500-year-old remains have been found in the Middle East.
 
The word garbanzo came to English as “calavance” in the 17th century, from Old Spanish (perhaps influenced by Old Spanish garroba oralgarroba), though it came to refer to a variety of other beans (cf. Calavance).
 
The plant grows to between 20–50 cm (8–20 inches) high and has small feathery leaves on either side of the stem. Chickpeas are a type of pulse, with one seedpod containing two or three peas. It has white flowers with blue, violet or pink veins. 
Mature chickpeas can be cooked and eaten cold in salads, cooked in stews, ground into a flour called gram flour (also known as chickpea flour and besan and used primarily in Indian cuisine), ground and shaped in balls and fried as falafel, fermented to make an alcoholic drink similar to sake.

Black-eyed pea (Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata)

The black-eyed pea, also called black-eyed bean and chawalie or lobia in various languages in India, is a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized, edible bean. The bean mutates easily, giving rise to a number of varieties. The common commercial one is called the California Blackeye; it is pale-colored with a prominent black spot. The currently accepted botanical name is Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata, although previously it was classified in the genus Phaseolus. Vigna unguiculata subsp. dekindtiana is the wild relative andVigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis is the related asparagus bean. Other beans of somewhat similar appearance, such as the frijol ojo de cabra (goat’s eye bean) of northern Mexico, are sometimes incorrectly called black-eyed peas, and vice versa.

 

Azuki bean (Vigna angularis)

The azuki bean (also spelled adzuki or aduki) is an annual vine, Vigna angularis, widely grown throughout East Asia and the Himalayas for its small (approximately 5 mm) bean. The cultivars most familiar in north-east Asia have a uniform red color, but white, black, gray and variously mottled varieties are also known. Scientists presume Vigna angularis var. nipponensis is the progenitor. Genetic evidence indicates that the azuki bean was first domesticated in the Himalayas. It was first cultivated in Korean peninsula and northeast of China before. It was later taken to Japan, where it is now the second most popular legume after the soybean.

In East Asian cuisine the azuki bean is commonly eaten sweetened. In particular, it is often boiled with sugar, resulting in red bean paste and a very common ingredient in all of these cuisines; it is also common to add flavoring to the bean paste, such as chestnut.

American groundnut (Apios americana)

Apios americana, sometimes called the potato bean, hopniss, Indian potato or groundnut(but not to be confused with other plants sometimes known by the name groundnut) is a perennial vine native to eastern North America, and bears edible beans and large edible tubers. It grows to 3–4 m long, with pinnate leaves 8–15 cm long with 5–7 leaflets. The flowers are red-brown to purple, produced in dense racemes. The fruit is a legume (pod) 6–12 cm long.

The tubers are crunchy and nutritious, with a high content of starch and especially protein. The plant was one of the most important food plants of pre-European North America, and is now being developed for domestication.