Glycine soja Sieb. & Zucc. Leguminosae. Coffee Bean. Soja Bean. Soy Bean.
Tropical Asia. This bean is much cultivated in tropical Asia for its seeds, which are used as food in India, China and Japan. It is an ingredient of the sauce known as soy. Of late, it has been cultivated as an oil plant. In 1854, two varieties, one white- and the other red-seeded, were obtained from Japan and distributed through the agency of the Patent Office. At the late Vienna Exposition, samples of the seed were shown among the agricultural productions of China, Japan, Mongolia, Transcaucasia and India. Professor Haberland says this plant has been cultivated from early ages and that it grows wild in the Malay Archipelago, Java and the East Indies. In Japan, it is called miso. Of late, its seeds have appeared among the novelties in our seed catalogs. According to Bretschneider, a Chinese writing of 163-85 B. C. records that Shen nung, 2800 B. C., sowed the five cereals, and another writing of A. D. 127-200 explains that these five cereals were rice, wheat, Panicum italicum Linn., P. miliaceum Linn. and the soja bean. The use of this bean as a vegetable is also recorded in authors of the fifth, fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. The first European mention of the soja bean is by Kaempfer, who was in Japan in 1690. In his account of his travels, he gives considerable space to this plant. It also seems to be mentioned by Ray, 1704. This bean is much cultivated in China and Cochin China. There are a large number of varieties. Seeds were brought from Japan to America by the Perry Expedition on its return and were distributed from the United States Patent Office in 1854. In France; seeds were distributed in 1855. In 1869, Martens described 13 varieties.