Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis

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Yardlong bean
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Vigna
Species: V. unguiculata
Subspecies: V. u. subsp. sesquipedalis
Trinomial name
Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis
(L.) Verdc.

Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis is a legume cultivated to be eaten as green pods. It is known as the yardlong bean,[1] bora, long-podded cowpea, asparagus bean,[1] pea bean,[1] snake bean, or Chinese long bean.[1] Despite the common name, the pods are actually only about half a yard long; the subspecies name sesquipedalis (one-and-a-half-foot-long) is a rather exact approximation of the pods' length.

This plant is of a different genus than the common bean. It is a vigorous climbing annual vine. The plant is subtropical/tropical and most widely grown in the warmer parts of South Asia, Southeast Asia, and southern China. A variety of the cowpea, it is grown primarily for its strikingly long (35-75 cm) immature pods and has uses very similar to that of the green bean. The many varieties of yardlong beans are usually distinguished by the different colors of their mature seeds. The plant attracts many pollinators, specifically various types of yellowjackets and ants.

The pods, which can begin to form just 60 days after sowing, hang in groups of two or more. They are best for vegetable use if picked before they reach full maturity; however, overlooked pods can be used like dry beans in soups. When harvesting, it is important not to pick the buds which are above the beans; since the plant will set many more beans on the same stem. The plants take longer to reach maturity than bush beans, but once producing, the beans are quick-growing and daily checking/harvesting is often a necessity. The plants will produce beans until frost.


Flower of yardlong bean
Seeds of yardlong beans

The crisp, tender pods are eaten both fresh and cooked. They are at their best when young and slender. They are sometimes cut into short sections for cooking uses. As a West Indian dish, they are often stir-fried with potatoes and shrimp. They are also used in stir-fries in Chinese cuisine and in Kerala cuisine. In the Philippines they are known as pole sitaw or butong and are widely eaten in stir fry with soy sauce, garlic and hot pepper and in an all vegetable dish call utan. In Malaysian cuisine, they are often stir-fried with chillies and shrimp paste (belacan) or used in cooked salads (kerabu). Another popular option is to chop them into very short sections and fry them in an omelette. In Suriname cuisine they are called kousenband and served with Roti.


They are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source for vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese.

Yardlong bean, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 197 kJ (47 kcal)
Carbohydrates 8.35 g
Fat 0.4 g
Protein 2.8 g
Vitamin A equiv. 43 μg (5%)
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.107 mg (9%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.11 mg (9%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 0.41 mg (3%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.55 mg (11%)
Vitamin B6 0.024 mg (2%)
Folate (vit. B9) 62 μg (16%)
Vitamin C 18.8 mg (23%)
Calcium 50 mg (5%)
Iron 0.47 mg (4%)
Magnesium 44 mg (12%)
Manganese 0.205 mg (10%)
Phosphorus 59 mg (8%)
Potassium 240 mg (5%)
Sodium 4 mg (0%)
Zinc 0.37 mg (4%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are roughly approximated
using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

A serving of 100 grams of yardlong beans contains 47 calories, 0 g of total fat, 4 mg sodium (0% daily value), 8 g of total carbohydrates (2% daily value), and 3 g of protein (5% daily value).

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