Winged Bean /Psophocarpus Tetragonolobus/
Winged Bean is a vigorous perennial climber with blue flowers and striking winged pods. The stems grow up to 4m long and require a strong trellis for support. The tuber is edible and is long with a brown skin like a yam.
An extremely useful, multipurpose plant that is cultivated as a food plant.
Winged Bean can also be used as a green manure as it has exceptional nitrogen-fixing properties.
Young tender beans, the smaller the sweeter are cooked for a few minutes. They are stringless, taste like green beans, and are of excellent flavour.
Leaves and young growing tips are delicious raw or cooked and have a great texture.
Flowers and flower buds are eaten raw or cooked in salads or soups.
They taste a little like mushrooms.
Mature seeds is roasted and eaten like peanuts or ground as a coffee substitute. In Indonesia it is fermented as tempeh.
The root is sweet and is eaten raw or cooked like potatoes.
Tropical to subtropical
The plant dies back in Winter and the tuber becomes dormant.
Stems reshoot from the tuberous rootstock and resume growth in Spring.
Most varieties will only flower when daylight hours are around 12hrs per day so it won’t grow in a temperate climate. Removing the pods stimulates tuber production, but growing the plants for pods or seed reduces tuber yield so it can be good to grow a few plants for different yields.
Prefers a fertile, slightly acidic well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.
Tolerates heavy soils but dislikes water logging.
Plant on a strong trellis with 30-60 cm between plants.
Plant on mounds if growing for tuber production.
Seeds should be treated before planting to improve germination.
Scarify by rubbing the seeds with sandpaper, otherwise pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water.
Sow November until December in the subtropics and October until January in the tropics.
The leaves, beans, seeds, flowers and roots are edible and contain high amounts of protein.
Risks and weed potential
Harvesting & Processing
The beans are harvested when tender about 10-20cm long and 2cm wide. Much bigger and they get tough.
Harvest all beans when they are small if you want to keep the plant producing.
Harvest young leaves and the growing tips. Stop picking once the plant starts flowering, as they will be tough.
Mature tubers can be harvested 120-240 days from sowing.