- Major entries:
- Dolichos lablab Linn. Bonavista Bean. Hyacinth Bean. Lablab.
- Dolichos sesquipedalis Linn. Asparagus Bean. Yard-Long Bean.
Dolichos biflorus Linn. Leguminosae. Horse Grain.
Old World tropics. This is the horse grain of the East Indies. The bean occurs in white, brown and black. The seeds are boiled in India for the horses, and the liquor that remains is used by the lower class of servants in their own food. There are varieties with gray and black seeds; the natives use the seeds in their curries,
Dolichos hastatus Lour.
East Africa. This plant is cultivated on the east coast of Africa and the seeds are eaten by the natives.
Tropics of India and China. A number of varieties of this bean are cultivated in Asiatic countries for the pulse and the tender pods. There is a great diversity in the color of the flowers, size and shape of pod and color of seeds. Roxburgh describes var. rectum, pods straight, seeds reddish, flowers white, large; called pauch-seem: Var. falcatum minus, pods falcate, size of the little finger, flowers white, largish; called baghonuko-seem: Var. falcatum majus, pods falcate, flowers purple; called dood-pituli-seem: Var. gladiatum flore albo, pods gladiate-clavate, length of the little finger, flowers white; called sada-jamai-puli-seem: Var. gladiatum flore purpureo, called pituli-jamai-puli-seem: Var. macrocarpum, the largest of all, pods six to eight inches long, seeds black with a white eye, flowers red; called gychi-seem.
A great number of synonyms which have been assigned to this species is indicative of the variable character of the plant. In India, where it is much cultivated, four eatable varieties which are offered for sale in the bazaars during the cold season, are thus described by Roxburgh: Var. albiflorum, the shevei-seem, flowers white, smallish, cultivated in gardens as a pole bean; the tender pods are eaten, the seeds never; the plant has a disagreeable smell: Var. rubiflorum, the jeea-seem, flowers red, cultivated and much esteemed by the natives: Var. purpurascens, the goordal-seem, a large variety with large, purple flowers: Var. purpureum, the ruk-to-seem, stem and large flowers purple, the pods deep purple. Wight calls the species a very valuable pulse generally esteemed by all classes of natives and very extensively cultivated in Mysore. In Jamaica, it is called the bonavista-bean and is cultivated in most parts of the country. The bean is a wholesome, palatable food and is in general use. On the east coast of Africa, the leaves are dried and made into a spinach.
South America. This bean was first described by Linnaeus, 1763. It reached England in 1781. Linnaeus gives its habitat as America and Jacquin received it from the West Indies. Martens considers it as a synonym of Dolichos sinensis Linn. Loureiro's description of D. sinensis certainly applies well to the asparagus bean, and Loureiro thinks the D. sesquipedalis of Linnaeus the same. He refers to Rumphius's Amboina, 1.9, c. 22, tab. 134, as representing his plant, and this work, published in 1750, antedates the description of Linnaeus. Probably this is an East Indian plant, introduced into the West Indies.
The name, asparagus bean, comes from the use of the green pods as a vegetable, and a tender, asparagus-like dish it is. The name at Naples, fagiolo e maccarone, conveys the same idea. The pods grow very long, oftentimes two feet in length, hence the name, yard-long bean, often used. The asparagus, or yard-long, bean is mentioned for American gardens in 1828 and probably was introduced earlier. It is mentioned for French gardens under the name of haricot asperge in 1829. There are no varieties known to our seedsmen, but Vilmorin offers one, the Dolique de Cuba.
Dolichos sphaerospermus DC. Black-Eyed Pea.
Jamaica. This is the black-eyed pea of the Barbados. It is a native of Jamaica, and the seeds are sweet and as good for food as any of the kidney beans.
Dolichos umbellatus Thunb.
Japan. The seeds and pods are used in the preparation of a starch and meal. There are several varieties of this plant under culture; some of them are pole beans, others dwarf.
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.