The Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), also known as the Goa bean (kacang botol in Malaysia), is a tropical legume plant native to Papua 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.
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.
Being a tropical plant, it is sensitive to frost. It will not flower if day length is more than 12 hours. The seeds have a hard coat and it helps to presoak the seeds before planting to hasten germination. The plant grows very quickly, reaching a length of four meters in a few weeks.
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, 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 more rich 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
, and other vitamins
It is possible that, with a little selective breeding, the winged bean could raise the standard of living for millions of people in poor, tropical countries.
The Goa bean needs at least 12 hours light not less.==Synonyms==
- Venketeswaran, S., M.A.D.L. Dias, and U.V. Weyers. The winged bean: A potential protein crop. p. 445. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), Advances in new crops. Timber Press, Portland, OR (1990).
- Entry for the Winged Bean in the "Leaf for Life" website
- Verdcourt, B. and Halliday, P. A revision of Psophocarpus (Leguminosae-Papilionoideae-Phaseoleae). Kew Bulletin, 1978; 33: 191-227.
- Kadam, S.S., Lawande, K.M., Naikare, S.M. and Salunkhe, D.K. Nutritional aspects of winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus L.DC). Legume Research, 1981; 4(1): 33-42.
- Smartt, J. Gene pools in grain legumes. Economic Botany, 1984; 38(1): 24-35.
- Hettiarachchy, N.S. and Sri Kantha, S. Nutritive value of winged bean, Psophocarpus tetragonolobus. Nutrisyon (Philippines), 1982; 7: 40-51.
- Sri Kantha, S. and Erdman, J.W.Jr. Winged bean as an oil and protein source; a review. Journal of American Oil Chemists Society, 1984; 61: 215-225.
- Sri Kantha, S. and Erdman, J.W.Jr. Is winged bean really a flop? Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 1986; 18: 339-341.
- Dr. James A. Duke's letter: