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This bean has been called the "one species supermarket" because practically all of the plant is edible. The beans are used as a vegetable, but the other parts ( leaves, flowers and tuberous roots ) are also edible. In Asia, Purple winged beans is cultivated as a vegetable. Outside Asia, the purple winged beans is still relatively unknown.
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PURPLE WINGED BEAN
The winged bean plant grows as a vine with climbing stems and leaves, 3–4 m in height. It is an herbaceous perennial, but can be grown as an annual. It is generally taller and notably larger than the Common bean. The bean pod is typically 15–22 cm (60;cm (6–9 in) long and has four wings with frilly edges running lengthwise. The skin is waxy and the flesh partially translucent in the young pods. When the pod is fully ripe, it turns an ash-brown color and splits open to release the seeds. The large flower is a pale blue. The beans themselves are similar to soybeans in both use and nutritional content (being 29.8% to 39% protein).
There is abundant variation in the appearance of winged bean. The shape of its leaves ranges from ovate, deltoid, ovate-lanceolate, lanceolate and long lanceolate. The leaves of winged bean also vary in colour appearing as different shades of green. Stem colour is commonly green, but can vary from shades of green to shades of purple.
Pod shape is most commonly rectangular, but can also appear flat. Pod colour may also vary from shades of cream, green, pink or purple. The exterior surface of the pod also varies in texture. Pods can appear smooth or rough depending on genotype. Seed shape is often round, but oval and rectangular seeds are also found. Seed colour changes based on environmental factors and storage conditions. Seeds may appear white, cream, brown or dark tan in appearance. The shape of winged bean tuberous roots also show variation.
This bean has been called the "one species supermarket" because practically all of the plant is edible. The beans are used as a vegetable, but the other parts (leaves, flowers, and tuberous roots) are also edible. The tender pods, which are the most widely eaten part of the plant (and best eaten when under 1" in length), can be harvested within two to three months of planting. The flowers are often used to color rice and pastries. The flavor of the beans has a similarity to asparagus. The young leaves can be picked and prepared as a leaf vegetable, similar to spinach. The roots can be used as a root vegetable, similar to the potato, and have a nutty flavor; they are also much richer in protein than potatoes. The dried seeds can be useful as a flour and also to make a coffee-like drink. Each of these parts of the winged bean provide a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and other vitamins. The seeds contain 35% protein and 18% oil.