[Sca-cooks] Old World beans (was: soooooo...)

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sat Feb 4 09:37:57 PST 2012

What you are after are members of the species Lathyrus,Vigna and Vicia. 
Probably all members of these genera have been used for human consumption, 
but most were considered "famine foods" by the Middle Ages and consigned to 
being ground cover and animal fodder, a purpose many still serve today.  I 
am listing only those I can demonstrate have been used by humans

Grass pea (Lathyrus sativa, Lathyrus sphaericus)
Red pea (Lathyrus cicera)
Sea pea (Lathyrus japonica)

These are the vetchlings that have commonly used for human consumption, but 
other members of the species have been consumed by humans.  You should be 
careful with members of genus Lathyrus.  The seeds are toxic in quantity 
causing symptoms that are referred to as lathyrism.

Bitter vetch  (Vicia ervilia) -- evidence of 12th Century use in European 
Common vetch (Vicia sativa)
Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa)

Fava beans are placed in the Vicia (Vicia faba) or are places in their own 
genus, Faba (Faba sativa).  They are not the survivor of a class of bean but 
are monotypic with cultivar differentiation based on the size of the bean. 
Besides arguing over genus, the botanical taxonomists are trying to decide 
if the group has varietals.

Black gram (Vigna mungo) -- probably Asian only in period
Adzuki bean (Vigna angularis) -- Asian only in period
Mung bean (Vigna radiata) -- Asian in period, East African after 10th 
Cowpea (Vigna unguiculata or V. unguiculata ssp. dekindtiana) -- the name is 
used for the general group or the specific subspecies
Catjang (Vigna unguiculata ssp cylindrica) -- probably Asian in period
Black-eyed pea (Vigna unguiculata ssp unguiculata) -- the common European 
member of the species
Yardlong bean (Vigna unguiculata ssp sesquipidalis) -- probably Asian in 

All yours to enjoy.


> Ah. these I already knew about, except "grass peas". I was hoping for more
> _European_ Broad Beans; AFAIK the only survivor of that specific class,
> once thousands strong, is the Fava.
> Yours in service to both the Societies of which I am a member-
> (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk, R.S.F.
> Alizaundre de Brebeuf, C.O.L. S.C.A.- AKA Una the wisewoman, or That Pict

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list