Broad Bean

Botanical Name : Vicia faba
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Tribe: Vicieae
Genus: Vicia
Species: V. faba
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales

Synonyms. : Faba vulgaris Moench, Faba bona Medik., Faba equina Medik.

Common Name :Broad Bean, Fava Bean, Field Bean, Bell Bean or Tic Bean

Habitat :Broad Bean is  native to north Africa and southwest Asia, and extensively cultivated elsewhere. A variety is provisionally recognized.

Does not occur in the wild. It was grown in ancient times (cultivated for 2-3 thousand years), but only by purposeful cultivation. In Russia, it has been cultivated since the 6th to 8th century. In the USSR, it was cultivated as basic fodder almost everywhere, but the cultivated area was not large (around 20 thousand hectares). The greatest areas of cultivation are in Byelorussia and Ukraine, the Baltic states, and the Altai region.

Description:
Annual plant. Taproot is strongly branched, penetrates to a depth of 80-150 cm. Colonies of nodule bacterium, which enrich soil with nitrogen, are formed on the roots. Stalk thick, strong, upright, bare or slightly pubescent, tetrahedral, hollow, 10-150 (200) cm tall, branching only at base. Leaves paripinnate, large, pulpy, without tendrils (the axil of leaf ends with soft cusp); with 1-4 pairs of leaflets, 4-8 x 2-4 cm, elliptical, glaucous-green (with a waxen bloom), bare; stipules up to 2 cm long, ovate-triangular, dentate, with nectaries. Peduncles 0.9-3 cm long. Flowers large, up to 3.5 cm long, 2-6 (12) per cluster. Calyx tubular, bare. Corolla white or pinkish with violet veins, spathes with a black maculae. Self-pollinator, but sometimes cross-pollinated. Fruit is a bean with 2-4-8 seeds. Beans very large, 5-10 (35) x 1.5-4 cm, oblate, cylindrical or oblong-cylindrical, pulpy, short pubescence, with bare sutures, green color when young, brown and black color when mature, coriaceous, on 1-4 in axil. Seeds 0.5 to 4 cm long, usually flat, oval, with lateral, pressed elliptical or linear scar, dark violet, red-brown, light yellow or green in color. The beans are differentiated by size: large seed grade (weight of 1000 seeds is 800-1300 g), middle seed grade (weight of 1000 seeds is 500-700 g) and small seed grade (weight of 1000 seeds is 200-450 g). Large seed grade is cultivated as a vegetable.

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Cultivation:
Broad beans have a long tradition of cultivation in Old World agriculture, being among the most ancient plants in cultivation and also among the easiest to grow. It is believed that along with lentils, peas, and chickpeas, they became part of the eastern Mediterranean diet in around 6000 BC or earlier. They are still often grown as a cover crop to prevent erosion, because they can over-winter and because as a legume, they fix nitrogen in the soil. These commonly cultivated plants can be attacked by fungal diseases, such as rust (Uromyces viciae-fabae) and chocolate spot (Botrytis fabae). It is also attacked by the black bean aphid (Aphis fabae).

The broad bean has high hardiness cvs. This means it can withstand rough climates, and in this case, cold ones. Unlike most legumes, the broad bean can be grown in soils with high salinity. However, it does prefer to grow in rich loams.

In much of the Anglophone world, the name broad bean is used for the large-seeded cultivars grown for human food, while horse bean and field bean refer to cultivars with smaller, harder seeds (more like the wild species) used for animal feed, though their stronger flavour is preferred in some human food recipes, such as falafel. The term fava bean (from the Italian fava, meaning “broad bean”) is sometimes used in English speaking countries, however the term broad bean is the most common name in the UK.

Culnilary Uses;
Broad beans are eaten while still young and tender, enabling harvesting to begin as early as the middle of spring for plants started under glass or over-wintered in a protected location, but even the main crop sown in early spring will be ready from mid to late summer. Horse beans, left to mature fully, are usually harvested in the late autumn. The young leaves of the plant can also be eaten either raw or cooked like spinach.

The beans can be fried, causing the skin to split open, and then salted and/or spiced to produce a savory crunchy snack. These are popular in China, Colombia, Peru (habas saladas), Mexico (habas con chile) and Thailand (where their name means “open-mouth nut”).

Broad bean purée with wild chicory is a typical Puglian dish in Italy.

In the Sichuan cuisine of China, broad beans are combined with soybeans and chili peppers to produce a spicy fermented bean paste called doubanjiang.

In most Arab countries, the fava bean is used for a breakfast dish called ful medames.

Fava beans are common in Latin American cuisines as well. In central Mexico, mashed fava beans are a common filling for many corn flour-based antojito snacks such as tlacoyos. In Colombia they are most often used whole in vegetable soups. Dried and salted fava beans are a popular snack in many Latin countries.

In Portugal, a fava bean (usually referred to as fava in Portuguese) is included in the bolo-rei (king cake), a Christmas cake. Traditionally, the person who gets fava has to buy the cake the following year.

In the Netherlands, they are traditionally eaten with fresh savory and some melted butter. When rubbed the velvet insides of the pods are a folk remedy against warts.

Broad beans are widely cultivated in the Kech and Panjgur districts of Balochistan Province in Pakistan, and in the eastern province of Iran. In the Balochi language, they are called bakalaink, and baghalee in Persian.

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Medicinal  uses:     
Broad beans are rich in tyramine, and thus should be avoided by those taking monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.

The ground dried beans have bee used to treat mouth sores. In New Mexico, a paste made of ground beans and hot water is applied to the chest and back as a treatment for pneumonia.

Raw broad beans contain the alkaloids vicine, isouramil and convicine, which can induce hemolytic anemia in patients with the hereditary condition glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD). This potentially fatal condition is called “favism” after the fava bean.

Broad beans are rich in L-dopa, a substance used medically in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. L-dopa is also a natriuretic agent, which might help in controlling hypertension.

Areas of origin of the bean correspond to malarial areas. There are epidemiological and in vitro studies which suggest that the hemolysis resulting from favism acts as protection from malaria, because certain species of malarial protozoa such as Plasmodium falcipacrum are very sensitive to oxidative damage due to deficiency of the glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase enzyme, which would otherwise protect from oxidative damage via production of glutathione reductase.

The seed testas contain condensed tannins of the proanthocyanidins type  that could have an inhibitory activity on enzymes

Medicinal Uses;
The ground dried beans have bee used to treat mouth sores. In New Mexico, a paste made of ground beans and hot water is applied to the chest and back as a treatment for pneumonia.

Other Uses;
*In ancient Greece and Rome, beans were used in voting; a white bean being used to cast a yes vote, and a black bean for no. Even today the word koukia  is used unofficially, referring to the votes.

*In Ubykh culture, throwing beans on the ground and interpreting the pattern in which they fall was a common method of divination (favomancy), and the word for “bean-thrower” in that language has become a generic term for seers and soothsayers in general.

*In Italy, broad beans are traditionally sown on November 2, All Souls Day. Small cakes made in the shape of broad beans (though not out of them) are known as fave dei morti or “beans of the dead”. According to tradition, Sicily once experienced a failure of all crops other than the beans; the beans kept the population from starvation, and thanks were given to Saint Joseph. Broad beans subsequently became traditional on Saint Joseph’s Day altars in many Italian communities. Some people carry a broad bean for good luck; some believe that if one carries a broad bean, one will never be without the essentials of life. In Rome, on the first of May, Roman families traditionally eat fresh fava beans with Pecorino Romano cheese during a daily excursion in the Campagna. In Northern Italy, on the contrary, fava beans are traditionally fed to animals and some people, especially the elderly, might frown on human consumption. But in Liguria, Northern Italy too, fava beans are loved like in Rome, and consumed fresh, alone or with fresh Pecorino Sardo or with local salami from Sant’Olcese. In some Central Italian regions was once popular and recently discovered again as a more fancy food the “bagiana” a soup of fresh or dried fava beans seasoned with onions and beet leaves stir fried, before being added to the soup, in olive oil and lard (or bacon or cured ham’s fat).

*In Portugal, a Christmas cake called Bolo Rei (“King cake”) is baked with a fava bean inside. Whoever eats the slice containing it, is supposed to buy next year’s cake.

*In ancient Greece and Rome, beans were used as a food for the dead, such as during the annual Lemuria festival.

*In some folk legends, such as in Estonia and the common Jack and the Beanstalk story, magical beans grow tall enough to bring the hero to the clouds.

*The Grimm Brothers collected a story in which a bean splits its sides laughing at the failure of others. Dreaming of a bean is sometimes said to be a sign of impending conflict, though others said that they caused bad dreams.

*Pliny claimed that they acted as a laxative.

*European folklore also claims that planting beans on Good Friday or during the night brings good luck.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicia_faba
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://www.agroatlas.ru/en/content/cultural/Vicia_faba_K/

http://digilander.libero.it/ipdid/photos-eng/vicia-faba—fava-bean.htm

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