Psophocarpus tetragonolobus: Winged beans

Family: Fabaceae
Common name: Winged beans, Goa bean, Four-angled bean, Prince bean, Four-cornered bean, Manila bean, Cigarillas, Princess bean, Asparagus pea, Dragon bean, Dragon’s tongue bean, Flying bean, Winged bean vine, Winged bean sprout, Winged bean fruit, Winged bean seed, Winged bean root

Winged beans is a tropical leguminous plant that is very commonly seen in Asian countries, and used in a wide variety of dishes. The plants grow as climbing vines reaching a height of 3-4 meters, climbing on trellises or supporting structures.

Like most plants in the pea family of Fabaceae, these plants grow very quickly, flowering 2-3 months after sowing. Beans are ready for harvest in about a month, after which they become fibrous and brittle. If you want to keep the winged beans for seeds, you can let them stay on the wine for another 2 months.

These plants normally have leguminous roots that harbor nitrogen-fixing bacteria that can convert atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates and nitrites that can be readily used by plants.

Winged bean stems are green, slightly woody, and brown towards the base. Leaves are large, green, and trifoliate, about 10-15 cm long. The flowers are large and beautiful, with light blue and white petals.
Winged bean plants produce bean pods that are 15-20cm long, and thicker than normal beans.

The beans have a rectangular shape with 4 frilly, winged edges giving the plant its name, winged beans. The skin of the bean pods are waxy and smooth, except for the wingtips that are delicate and ragged.

The pods change in color for light green to dark green and eventually brown, when they mature. Bean pods contain white or light green rounded seeds, which are very similar to soybeans in nutritional value.

These sturdy plants can grow in a variety of conditions like drought, rains, shade, harsh sun, poor soil, or weather fluctuations. But the yield of the plant will vary depending on the growing conditions,. he plants produce abundant fruits in bright sunlight, well-drained soil, humid climate, and frequent fertilization.

They can be grown very easily in kitchen gardens with very little attention, providing 10-15 kilos of beans per plant in a short span of time.

Winged bean pods are edible and are rich in proteins, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium, and iron making them a valuable food source in many tropical regions. The leaves, pods, flowers, and seeds can be eaten raw or cooked, and are often used in soups, curries, and stews.

They have a higher protein content than many similar vegetables, making winged beans a good source of protein for vegetarian diet. Leaves can be eaten like other greens, pods can be sautéed or fried, seeds can be toasted and eaten by themselves. Winged bean plants also produce a milk similar to soy milk.

The are good fodder plants providing cattle with the necesary fibers as well as proteins. Winged bean leaves and flowers are used in traditional herbal medicine to treat fever, diarrhea, and wounds. They help in weight loss, controlling diabetes, reducing inflammation and building immunity.

Nitrogen-fixing capabilities make the plants valuable in improving soil quality, and fertility. Due to their high protein content, they are potential crops to help combat protein malnutrition in developing countries.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.