Pulse of the Month November: The Mung Bean

Changed on: 23.10.2017
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Mung beans

The genus Vigna comprises between 100 and 150 species and subspecies. The mung bean, Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek, is closely related to the adzuki bean, Vigna angularis (Willd.) Ohwi & H.Ohashi, the cow pea, Vigna unguiculate (L.) Walp., and the black gram or urad or mungo bean, Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper. The name of the latter, mungo bean, often causes confusion, as it is often mistaken for the actual mung bean. The mung bean’s main cultivation areas today are Africa, China and India.

More information
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Mung beans

The genus Vigna comprises between 100 and 150 species and subspecies. The mung bean, Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek, is closely related to the adzuki bean, Vigna angularis (Willd.) Ohwi & H.Ohashi, the cow pea, Vigna unguiculate (L.) Walp., and the black gram or urad or mungo bean, Vigna mungo (L.) Hepper. The name of the latter, mungo bean, often causes confusion, as it is often mistaken for the actual mung bean. The mung bean’s main cultivation areas today are Africa, China and India.

More information

Botany

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Mung bean
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Mung bean leaf
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Mung bean flower
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Mung bean pods and seeds


The mung bean, Vigna radiata (L.) R.Wilzek, also known as moong bean, green gram or mung is a member of the Fabaceae / Leguminosae family.

The annual, herbaceous plant grows straight and has many branches and grows between 30 to 150 cm tall. The leaves are alternate, trifoliate and 10 to 15 cm long. The individual leaflets are elliptical to ovate, possess pointed tips and are 5 to 10 cm long and 4 to 6.5 cm wide. Like the stem, they are very hairy.

The pale yellow to sulphur-yellow papilionaceous flowers are arranged in long-stemmed clusters with a small number of petals. Mung beans are mainly self-fertilising -- i.e. fertilisation occurs within the closed papilionaceous flower. The plant forms two long, cylindric pods once it has finished blossoming. The hairy, 4 to 10 cm long pods are green at first and then turn dark brown to black when ripe. They contain between 7 to 20 brownish or yellowish-green seeds with a clearly visible hilum. They can be round and swollen, but also elongated or square with round edges.

Nutrients

Mung beans have a pure protein content of 24.0 to 25.6 %. The pure protein’s amino acid composition is qualitatively very high given the high lysin content of a maximum of 9.4 per 16g N. Additionally, mung beans contain essential amino acids such as leucine, isoleucine, threonine, cysteine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine and valine. It’s net fat content is low at 1.3 % and consists of more than 50 % unsaturated fatty acids. It contains 69.2 % carbohydrates, 4.9 % raw fibre and 3.9 % ash. Additionally, the seeds of the mung bean contain a number of vitamins (vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, niacin, folic acid, vitamins C, E and K) and minerals (including high levels of calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous), as well as iron, a very important trace element.

Past and present use

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Mongbohne (Dillenius 1732)

The mung bean is one of the most important legumes in Asia, particularly in India, South East and East Asia.

Both mung bean seeds and their seedlings – the so-called bean sprouts – are eaten. The green pods are also occasionally consumed in salads or as vegetables. In India, the use of the seeds dominates, while in China and the USA mung beans are mainly used to produce sprouts.

Mung beans have a nutty flavour that makes them versatile to use. Classic delicacies are Indian stews such as dhal, which is made from whole or skinned and halved  (no soaking required) mung bean seeds. Additionally, the beans are powdered to make flour that is used in the making of Asian glass noodles, for example. Mung bean sprouts can be used in salads, soups or classic wok recipes.

Mung beans are also a traditional ingredient used in folk medicine. They are used internally to treat flatulence, colds, rheumatism and liver problems, as well as externally. Moreover, the plant is cultivated as green fodder, hay, silage and green manure and soil cover. New growth and waste from threshing is also used as animal feed.

Agricultural aspects

The mung bean can survive on relatively little water and also grows at altitudes of up to 2,000 m. It tolerates temperatures as low as 10 °C, but develops best at temperatures between 20 and 28 °C. The plant prefers strong, heavy soils with a pH value between 4.4 and 6.5 that do not retain water.

The seeds are sown at the beginning or the end of the rainy season. The harvest is approximately 80 to 120 days after sowing. Harvest yields are usually between 4 and 6 dt/ha, with maximum yields of up to 20 dt/ha.

A Symbol of Variety

The European database for genetic resources currently lists 1,070 Viga radiata accessions, with most of them kept in gene banks in Russia. The Austrian register for genetic resources (Index Seminum) includes one mung bean and three cow peas (Vigna uniculata) (www.genbank.at/nationales-verzeichnis.html).

Literature

Literature

Dillenius, J.J. (1732) Hortus Elthamensis, vol. 2 p. 314A, t. 235, fig. 304

Lieberei R., Franke W., Reisdorff Ch. (2012) Nutzpflanzenkunde. 8. Aufl., Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart.

EU Variety catalogue:

http://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/plant_propagation_material/plant_variety_catalogues_databases/search/public/index.cfm

http://geb.uni-giessen.de/geb/volltexte/2000/320/original/mungbohn.htm

www.genbank.at

www.naehrwertrechner.de

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