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Common Bean
Fabaceae
Phaseolus vulgaris


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Vine



Fabaceae Family

Phaseolus Genus
Other Names for this Plant

String Bean, and Green Bean


Location

Domesticated independently in ancient Mesoamerica and the Andes. Green beans are of nearly universal distribution today.

Physical Description
The common bean is a highly variable species with a long history. Bush varieties form erect bushes 20 60 cm tall, while pole or running varieties form vines 2 3 m long. All varieties bear alternate, green or purple leaves, divided into three oval, smooth-edged leaflets, each 6 15 cm long and 3 11 cm wide. The white, pink, or purple flowers are about 1 cm long, and give way to pods 8 20 cm long, 1 1.5 cm wide, 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.


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Fabaceae
Bean Family
Fabales
Fabales
Order of Beans
NOX Clad
Nitrogen Bean Clad
Oxid-Faba
Fabidae
Bean-Like Class
Eurosids
Real Rose Class
Rosids
Rosids
Rose-Like Class
Core Eudicots
Core Eudicots
Main, Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Eudicots
Eudicots
Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants, broad beans having been grown at least since ancient Egypt, and the common bean for six thousand years in the Americas.

Medicinal Uses: Diuretic
Bean pods are effective in lowing blood sugar levels and can be used (with the concurrence of a doctor) for mild cases of diabetes. A bean pod diet for this purpose would mean eating 9-16 lb. of pods per week (they can be cooked like vegetables). The pods are most effective before the beans are ripe, and fresh pods are more effective than dried. Dried pods are particularly to be used in conjunction or rotation with other efficacious herbs, such as bilberry, milfoil, dandelion, and juniper. These can be taken alone or mixed, as a tea. Bean pod tea is useful for dropsy, sciatica, chronic rheumatism, kidney and bladder problems, uric acid accumulations, and loss of albumin in the urine during pregnancy. Externally, promotes healing of ulcers and sores. Prolonged use of the decoction made from the beans is recommended for difficult cases of acne. Bean meal can also be applied directly to the skin for moist eczema, eruptions, and itching. Wash the skin every 2-3 hours with German chamomile tea and apply new meal.

The green pods are mildly diuretic and contain a substance that reduces the blood sugar level. The dried mature pod is used according to another report. It is used in the treatment of diabetes.

The seed is diuretic, hypoglycemic and hypotensive. Ground into a flour, it is used externally in the treatment of ulcers. The seed is also used in the treatment of cancer of the blood. When bruised and boiled with garlic they have cured intractable coughs.

Food Uses: An interesting modern example of the diversity of bean use is 15 bean soup, which, as the name implies, contains literally fifteen different varieties of bean. In Mexico, Central America and South America, the traditional spice to use 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 like tomatoes may harden uncooked beans resulting in seasoned beans at the expense of slightly longer cooking times.

Outside of Africa and Indonesia, few people realize that bean plants produce leaves that are a highly nutritious and tasty potherb eaten throughout Africa and in Indonesia. They are extremely rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and protein. Bean leaves are grown in two different ways. When grown as a separate crop it is planted more densely than when grown for beans and the plants are usually uprooted at 3-5 weeks. Sometimes small farmers and gardeners try to combine a harvest of leaves and beans. This is best done by harvesting leaves from the lower third of the plant just before flowering begins.

Immature seedpods - raw or cooked. The green pods are commonly used as a vegetable, they have a mild flavor and should only be cooked for a short time. When growing the plant for its seedpods, be sure to pick them whilst they are still small and tender. This will ensure the continued production of more pods by the plant. Flowering is reduced once the seeds begin to form inside the pods.

The immature seeds are boiled or steamed and used as a vegetable.

The mature seeds are dried and stored for future use. They must be thoroughly cooked before being eaten and are best soaked in water for about 12 hours prior to this. They can be boiled, baked, pureed, ground into a powder, or fermented into 'tempeh' etc. The powdered seed makes a protein-enriching additive to flour, it can also be used in soups etc. The seed can also be sprouted and used in salads or cooked.

Other Notes: Stephen Facciolas's Cornucopia lists 130 varieties of snap beans. Varieties specialized for use as green beans, selected for the succulence and flavor of their pods, are the ones usually grown in the home vegetable garden, and many varieties exist. Pod color can be green, golden, purple, red, or streaked. Shapes range from thin "fillet" types to wide "romano" types and more common types in between. French Haricots verts (green beans) are bred for flavorful pods.

Phaseolus vulgaris (kidney bean) is indigenous to the Americas, being unknown to the rest of the world before Columbus. This species includes the common green bean as well as wax beans, and various dried beans such as red kidney, pinto, and navy. These beans were extensively cultivated and used as trade goods by Native American tribes from Canada to South America, with each tribe having its own names and folklore for the beans.

Before the discovery of the New World, Europeans did have other bean species with various traditions associated with them. On 3 days of the year, the Roman head of the household went through a ritual ceremony of spitting beans out of his mouth to rid his home of evil spirits. This custom carried over to the Middle Ages, where spitting a mouthful of beans in a witch's face was considered to negate her powers. Perhaps beans were thought to be a potent deterrent against evil because as a seed they have stored within them the positive life force of all living and growing things.

Since 200 BC, tofu (bean curd) has been cooked into a soup to treat colds; the Chinese version of chicken soup. Tofu can be stored up to 5 days in the refrigerator. To preserve freshness, immerse tofu in water and change the water daily. It is both low in calories and highly nutritious: 6 oz. portion is a mere 100 calories and contains about 6% protein.

Cultivation: Beans are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. They should be planted after all danger of frost is past in the spring. If the soil has warmed before the average last-frost date, an early planting may be made a week to 10 days before this date. You can assure yourself a continuous supply of snap beans by planting every 2 to 4 weeks until early August.

Propagation: From seed. Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in mid spring in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 10 days. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring though it may not ripen its seed in a cool summer.

Companion Planting: Grows well with strawberries, carrots, cauliflowers, cucumbers, cabbage, beet, leek, and celeriac. They are inhibited by alliums and fennel growing nearby. Bush beans planted with potatoes protect them against the Colorado potato beetle. In return, the potatoes protect the bush beans from the Mexican bean beetle. It is considered best to plant the beans and potatoes in alternate rows.

One especially famous use of beans by pre-Columbian people is the Three Sisters method of companion planting cultivation:

On the east coast of what would come to be called the United States, some tribes would grow maize (corn), beans, and squash intermingled together, a system which had originated in Mexico. The corn would not be planted in rows as it is today, but in a checkerboard hex fashion across a field, separate patches of one to four stalks each.

Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, "bush beans" having only been bred more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.

Squash would then be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans, because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals like deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, et cetera





Common Bean


Comment: Common Bean, Phaseolus vulgaris

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