Grain legumes, also called pulses, are plants belonging to the family Leguminosae (alternatively Fabaceae) which are grown primarily for their edible grains or seeds. These seeds are harvested mature and marketed dry, to be used as food or feed. Being legumes, these plants have the advantage of fixing atmospheric nitrogen for their own needs and for soil enrichment, thereby reducing the cost of fertilizer inputs in crop farming.
Crops that are harvested green for forage and for vegetables are excluded, as well as those grown for grazing or green manure. Also excluded are the leguminous crops with seeds which are used exclusively for sowing, such as alfalfa and clover (FAO, 2010).
As defined further by the Food and Agriculture Organization (2010) of the United Nations, pulses exclude those that are used mainly for the extraction of oil, e.g., soybeans. This definition, however, is presumed based on the main uses of the crop in consideration of world statistics. It does not necessarily declassify the soybean and other leguminous crops as pulse crops in certain countries. In its report entitled “Dimensions of need- Staple crops: What do people eat?,” FAO (1995) in fact listed soybean as a staple crop in China and lentil in the North Eastern region.
Grain legumes or pulses, which include beans, peas, soybeans, peanuts and lentils, are excellent sources of protein and B vitamins in addition to carbohydrate. Although the protein quality is not as good as in meat generally due to low levels of the essential amino acid methionine, this can be corrected by incorporating grain legumes with cereals in the diet (Oregon State University, n.d.). They are rich in lysine. Especially with soybeans and peanuts, they are good sources of vegetable oils which are used in the production of various products such as cooking oil, margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressings (Hymowitz, 1990).
Grain Legumes: Common Names and Scientific Names
Adzuki bean, azuki bean, Adanka bean, danka bean (Vigna angularis, syn.: Phaseolus angularis)
Broad bean, faba bean, fava bean, bell bean, field bean, tic bean (Vicia faba)
(large-seeded broadbeans, windsorbeans- V. faba var. major)
(horsebeans- V. faba) var. major)
(small, round-oval seeded tickbean, pigeon bean- V. faba var. minor)
Vetch, common vetch (Vicia sativa)
Common bean, common field bean, kidney bean, navy, habichuela, snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Bengal gram, calvance pea, chestnut bean, chich, chich-pea, dwarf pea,
garavance, garbanza, garbanzo bean, garbanzos, gram, gram pea, homes,
hamaz, nohub, lablabi, shimbra, yellow gram (Cicer arietinum)
asparagus bean, black eyed pea, black eyed bean, crowder pea, field
pea, southern pea, frijole, lobhia, kibal, nieve, paayap (Vigna unguiculata, syn.: Vigna sinensis)
Guar bean, cluster bean, gawaar, gwaar ki phalli (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba)
Hyacinth bean, bonavist, bataw, lablab (Dolichos lablab)
black lentil, brown lentil, green lentil, green mungbean, large-seeded
lentil, red mungbean, small-seeded lentil, wild lentil, yellow lentil,
adas, mercimek, messer, masser, heramame (Lens culinaris)
Lima bean, butter bean, patani (Phaseolus lunatus)
Lupin, lupine, lupine, sweet lupin (Lupinus spp.)
(white lupin- L. albus)
(blue lupin (L. angustifolius)
(yellow lupin- L. luteus)
(Andean lupin, pearl lupin, chocho- L. mutabilis)
(wild lupin- L. perennis)
Mung bean, black dahl, black gram, black mung, golden gram, gram bean, green gram, mungo, red mung bean, urd, chop suey bean (Vigna radiata, syn.: Phaseolus aureus)
dry pea, Chinese pea, Chinese pea pod, Chinese snow pea, edible-podded
pea, edible pod pea, podded pea, snap pea, snow pea, sugar snap pea,
batani, chicharo, erbese, ater, pois, takamany borso, pisello, holoan,
mange-tout, papdi (Pisum sativum)
Peanut, groundnut, earth nut, goober pea, mani, monkey nut, runner peanut, Spanish peanut, Valencia peanut, Virginia peanut (Arachis hypogaea)
Pigeon pea, kadios (Cajanus cajan)
Soybean, soya, soyabean, edamame (Glycine max)
Tepary bean, tepari bean (Phaseolus acutifolius)
Top World Producers of Some Grain Legumes, 2008 (FAOSTAT, 2010):
Beans, dry- Brazil
Broad beans, horse beans, dry- China
Chick peas- India
Cowpeas, dry- Nigeria
Peanuts (groundnut), with shell- China
Peas, dry- Canada
Pigeon peas- India
ReferencesCenter for New Crops and Plant Products. 2010. Purdue University. Retrieved October 23, 2010 from http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/default.html.
Peel, L. 2003. Harper Collins Practical Gardener: Kitchen Garden. New York, N.Y.: Harper Collins Publishers Ltd. pp. 78-83.
Tabinga, G.A. and A.O. Gagni. 1982. Field Legumes Production in the Philippines. UPLB, College, Laguna: Department of Development Communication. 57 p.