Broad Bean

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

broad bean Vicia faba (or Faba vulgaris), the original bean of Europe, W. Asia, and N. Africa, has been an important staple food for millennia (long before the haricot bean was imported from America), and is also known as fava bean (from the Latin name). Remains of broad beans have been found in many of the earliest inhabited sites investigated by archaeologists throughout this region.

After 3000 BC their cultivation spread to China, where in some southern provinces they now rank second to soya beans in importance. They are also cultivated in the temperate regions of N. America; in some dry, mountainous parts of S. America where the native haricot bean does not grow well; and in the Sudan and Uganda.