Haricot Bean

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

haricot bean Phaseolus vulgaris, is a native of C. America, where several varieties with small, black seeds (beans) still grow wild, but has become the most important legume cultivated in Europe and N. America. It is also grown in other temperate and subtropical regions of the world.

The plant was first domesticated more than 5,000 years ago. By the time the Europeans arrived in America numerous varieties of different sizes and colours were being cultivated in both S. and N. America. The first samples of the new beans to reach Europe, in the 16th century, were of a dark red, kidney-shaped variety, so giving rise to the common English name kidney beans.