Winged Bean

Two long green bean pods with frills running down the sides of the pods, along with one indigo flower

Winged beans and blossoms. Photo by Scott Zona.

Finding edible plants to grow in the summer garden can be a real challenge. Turning to some of the less well-known vegetables can be just what Florida gardeners need to keep their edible gardens producing through the summer heat.

Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus) is a climbing plant similar in appearance and growth habit to pole beans. Winged beans are also known as goa bean or princess bean.

As with other legumes, these bean plants can help add nitrogen to your soils. They perform best in South Florida when grown during the winter. In North and Central Florida these plants perform best when grown in the fall. Winged bean plants need short days to initiate flowering; however, they are sensitive to frost.

The pointed, 3 to 6 inch-long leaves are produced on weak vining stems. Four angled leaf-like "wings" run lengthwise to the pods. Bean pods are 6 to 9 inches long when mature. They are prepared and eaten the same way as bush snap beans. When they are mature, seeds are round and green and similar to soybeans. Some varieties of this plant produce a large tuberous root that can be eaten cooked or raw. Winged bean roots and seeds are high in protein.

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