Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Bean, the name commonly applied to Faba vulgaris, the broad or Windsor bean, to its seeds or to other plants, mostly leguminous, having large seeds. The bean is an annual leguminous plant, believed to be a native of the eastern Mediterranean region, cultivated probably before B.C. 1000. It is an erect plant, two to four feet high, with quadrangular stem, pinnate leaves of four to eight oval leaflets, fragrant white flowers blotched with violet, large green pods, and roundish kidney-shaped flattened seeds. The precept of Pythagoras to his followers to abstain from beans has been explained as a figurative advice not to meddle with politics, beans being used in the Athenian ballot; and the Roman family of the Fabii are said to have derived their name from success in the cultivation of beans. Beans were probably introduced into England by the Romans, and are now largely grown as food for both horses and men. The French or kidney bean is the unripe pod of Phaseolus vulgaris; the scarlet-runner, that of P. multiflorus. The haricot bean is the ripe seed of P. vulgaris; the Lima bean, a favourite in America, that of P. lunatus.