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Phaseolus lunatus - L.

Common Name Lima Bean, Sieva bean
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The raw mature seed is poisonous. The toxic principle is hydrocyanic acid and this is destroyed by thoroughly cooking the seed[200].
Habitats Not known
Range S. America. - Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela; C. America - Panama to Mexico.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Phaseolus lunatus Lima Bean, Sieva bean

Phaseolus lunatus Lima Bean, Sieva bean


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Physical Characteristics

Phaseolus lunatus is a PERENNIAL CLIMBER.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.



 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed;  Seedpod.
Edible Uses:

Immature seed - cooked and used like peas in soups, stews etc[183]. The mature seed is dried and stored for future use. It must be thoroughly cooked before being eaten[200]. It is best soaked for about 12 hours prior to cooking and is eaten in soups, stews or fermented and made into tempeh[183]. The sprouted seeds are cooked and used in Chinese dishes[183]. The dried seed can be ground into a powder then used as a thickener in soups or can be mixed with cereal flours when making bread. Young seedpods - steamed and used as a side dish with rice, or added to soups, stews etc[183]. Leaves - cooked. They often have a bitter taste[183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


The seeds are astringent[240]. They are used in the diet of people with fevers[240].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen;  Management: Standard;  Minor Global Crop;  Staple Crop: Protein.

Requires a well-drained moderately fertile soil in a sunny position. Plants are prone to drop their flowers when grown in nitrogen-rich soils[200]. The Lima bean is commonly cultivated for its edible seed and seedpods in tropical and warm temperate areas of the world, there are many named varieties[183, 200]. The plants are very frost tender and are even less tolerant of wet and cold than the runner bean, Phaseolus coccineus[200]. There are bush and climbing forms, the climbers are more productive but bush forms come into bearing more quickly and are probably more suitable for cooler gardens[200]. Plants mature in 12 - 16 weeks from seed in warm climates but the growing season in Britain is usually too short for the beans to mature fully and crop yields are seldom worthwhile[200]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].


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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.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Phaseolus coccineusRunner Bean, Scarlet runner40
Phaseolus vulgarisFrench Bean, Kidney bean32


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment


informative page it is.But is this the same crop with climber bean ?

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Subject : Phaseolus lunatus  
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