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Psophocarpus tetragonolobus - (L.)DC.

Common Name Winged Bean
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 8-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range Original habitat is obscure, probably Tropical Africa.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Psophocarpus tetragonolobus Winged Bean

Psophocarpus tetragonolobus Winged Bean


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Psophocarpus tetragonolobus is a PERENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft 7in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10 and is frost tender. 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, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Oil  Oil  Root  Seed  Seedpod  Shoots  Stem
Edible Uses: Coffee  Colouring  Oil  Oil

Young seedpods - cooked for a few minutes[2, 46, 61, 116]. They tastes like French beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)[183]. The pods are harvested when about 15 - 20 cm long and 2cm wide[200]. They will store for up to 21 days at 10°c with a relative humidity of 90%[200]. The yields of pods average 250 - 500g per m²[200]. Immature seeds are used in soups etc[183]. Mature seeds are eaten cooked[2, 46, 61, 116]. They are very nutritious, being rich in oil (up to 17%)[160], protein, vitamin E and calcium. The seed can also be roasted and eaten like peanuts or fermented and used as tempeh[183]. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[183]. Root - raw or cooked like potatoes[160, 183]. Slightly sweet, it contains 20% or more protein, which is about 12 times that of potatoes[116, 183]. Leaves and young shoots - cooked. They are used like spinach[61, 116, 183]. Flowers and flower buds - raw or cooked[183]. They have a flavour similar to mushrooms when sautéed[116]. The light blue flowers are also used as a colouring in foods[183]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

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.

None known

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

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Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
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Other Uses

Green manure  Oil  Oil  Soil reclamation

A very good green manure with exceptional nitrogen-fixing properties, producing a greater weight of nodules per plant than any other member of the Leguminosae[200]. It is used for soil improvement and restoration[200].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Management: Standard  Minor Global Crop  Staple Crop: Protein-oil

Prefers a loamy slightly acidic soil, but there are cultivars suitable for many soil types[200]. Tolerates heavy soils[116] but dislikes wet soils[200]. Dislikes drought[200]. Very widely cultivated as a food plant in the tropics and sub-tropics, there are many named varieties[183]. It is usually treated as an annual. In temperate zones it has to be grown as an annual crop. Most varieties will only flower when daylight hours are around 12 per day[116] but day-neutral varieties are being developed that will flower in the summer in northerly and southerly latitudes[200]. Temperatures in the range of 25 - 30°c are necessary for optimum growth[200]. Plants take 60 - 80 days from sowing to the first harvest of seedpods[200]. Mature tubers can be harvested 120 - 240 days from sowing[200]. The plant is very disease resistant[160]. 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].

Carbon Farming

  • Agroforestry Services: Nitrogen  Plants that contribute to nitrogen fixation include the legume family – Fabaceae.
  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Minor Global Crop  These crops are already grown or traded around the world, but on a smaller scale than the global perennial staple and industrial crops, The annual value of a minor global crop is under $1 billion US. Examples include shea, carob, Brazil nuts and fibers such as ramie and sisal.
  • Staple Crop: Protein-oil  (16+ percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Annuals include soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Perennials include seeds, beans, nuts, and fruits such as almond, Brazil nut, pistachio, walnut, hazel, and safou.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in early spring in a warm greenhouse. Place two or three seeds in each pot, thinning to the strongest plant. Plant them out in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts and give them the protection of a cloche or cold frame until they are growing away strongly[240].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Betlanei, Charfakia, Chipir, Dambala, Dara-dhambala, Fava de cavalo, Fogiolo quadrato, Four angled bean, Goa bean, Goabohne, Kacang botor, Kachang belimbing, Kachang botol, Kachang botor, Kechipir, Kecipir, Manilla bean, Pois asperge, Prapiey chrung, Samporong, Sbai daograng, Sem, Shikakumame, Si jiang dou, Sigarilyas, Sikaku mame, Su-ling dou, Sz kok tau, Thua phuu, Thua pu, Tua pu, asparagus bean|dara dambala, asparagus-pea, calamismis, four-angle-bean, goa bean, goa-bean, goabohne, goaböna, hane-mi-sasage, pois carré, princess-pea, shikaku-mame, winged bean, winged pea, winged-bean.

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

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

Africa, Asia, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Caribbean, Central Africa, China, Congo, Cook Islands, Côte d'Ivoire, East Africa, East Timor, Egypt, Fiji, Ghana, Hawaii, India, Indochina, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Marianas, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Africa, Northeastern India, Pacific, Papua New Guinea, PNG, Philippines, Reunion, SE Asia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South America, Sri Lanka, Tahiti, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Timor-Leste, USA, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Africa, Zambia,

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 : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



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

   Sun Nov 5 2006

any ideas on suppliers for this one? Cheers, Niels

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future.   Mon Nov 6 2006

The seed can often be obtained from http://www.b-and-t-world-seeds.com

Bob Newey   Sun Feb 11 2007

I live in Brisbane Queensland Australia and have some young seedlings to plant out in the garden on a long trellis,; is there any particular aspect they like to grow e.g facing east west etc, as certain plants including passionfruit require for optimum results Regards Bob Newey

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Sun Feb 11 2007

The plant prefers a fairly sunny position and grows best where the air is quite humid, though it seems to be quite tolerant of less than optimum conditions. It has been grown successfully as an annual in warmer temperate climates, in Queensland it should do well as a perennial.

Jane Stambul   Wed Oct 31 2007

Hi Niels, I know this is nearly one year too late. But if you are still interested to purchase (in bulk) this product (Winged Bean) fresh or dried whole plants, my family and I are cultivating this as crops to be supplied to Pharmaceuticals company in Europe and elsewhere in the world. So, if you read this message, please contact me directly by email: [email protected] or contact me at landline: ++976 11 331763 or my mobile No. ++976 99756990 (Mongolia Branch Office) or My Kuala Lumpur Headoffice : ++60 3 79819327 Fax: ++ 60 3 79816782 Jane Stambul (Ms)

Faloye Benjamin   Sat Aug 29 2009

Hi, im growing this plant for research purpose. First step is the morphological characterization of the various accessions, thereafter, forage and seed nutrient composition.Nutrition value shall also be accessed. Genetic Resources Centre, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, P.M.B 5320, Oyo State of Nigeria.

Hi, im growing this plant for research purpose. First step is the morphological characterization of the various accessions, thereafter, forage and seed nutrient composition.Nutrition value shall also be accessed.

musta   Tue Sep 29 2009

Hi guys, i'm from Indonesia. in my country, this seed have cultivated for many purpose. My experiment based on this seed, i learn how to make flour from this seed

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