Pulses are legumes that produce seed for human consumption. They are harvested when dry, and then cooked, usually requiring long soaks in cooking liquid. They are high in carbohydrates, B vitamins, and protein--often able to serve as meat substitutes in the diet. Oil content of pulses varies widely. Many pulses contain anti-nutritional factors or poisonous substances and need to be thoroughly cooked before eating. Under proper conditions, they can be stored for many years, serving as valuables sources of food security. Most tropical pulses are annuals.


  1. Rice Bean Vigna umbellata

    Rice Bean, Climbing Mountain Bean, Mambi Bean, Oriental Bean, red bean

    Vigna umbellata is a nitrogen-fixing, perennial legume, often grown as an annual. Depending on variety, V. umbellata presents as vining, bush, or semi-erect forms, reaching heights of 30-200 cm. Leaves are trifoliate and bright, yellow flowers are produced in groups of 5-20 per raceme, giving way...
  2. Chickpea Cicer arietinum

    Chickpea, Garbanzo, Gram, Bengal Gram, Cece, Homos, Chana

    Chickpea is a very drought-tolerant, nitrogen-fixing, cool season crop that tolerates heat during fruiting and ripening. It is grown as a cool season annual in a broad belt through the Mediterranean region to the subtropical and tropical regions of Asia, Europe, Central, and South America. The...
  3. Cowpea Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata

    Cowpea, Black Eyed Pea, Crowder

    Vigna unquiculata is a grain legume that originates in Africa. Attributes such as vine shape (climbing, prostrate, or semi-erect), seed color (shades of white, pink, brown, and black) and seed maturation time (60 to 240 days) vary with variety. Pods appear in V-shaped pairs.
  4. Seven Year Lima Phaseolus lunatus

    Seven Year Lima, Madagascar Bean, Painted Lady, Tropical Lima, Haricot De Madagascar

    '7-Year' is a variety that originated in Central America, but has been bred in parts of East Africa and South Africa and is commonly used as a cover crop. If grown along the ground, it produces a 60 cm high mat of foliage that smothers weeds. It can also be trellised for easier seed harvest. The...
  5. Common Bean Phaseolus vulgaris

    Common bean

    The common bean is one of the main food crops globally. Bush varieties reach 20-60cm while climbing (or “pole”) varieties reach up to 3m in height. Depending on the variety, common beans are grown for their green pods and/or mature, dry seeds.
  6. Peanut Arachis hypogaea

    Peanut, Groundnut, Goober, earthnut

    Arachis hypogaea is a globally important legume crop originating in South America. A low-growing, annual plant, depending on variety A. hypogaea can reach lengths of 70 cm. Leaves are opposite, pinnately compound, and leaflets are borne in opposing pairs (4 leaflets per leaf). A. hypogaea leaves...
  7. Wild Mung Bean Vigna vexillata

    Wild Mung Bean, Zombie Pea, Wild Cowpea

    Wild mung bean is a perennial, vining, nitrogen-fixing plant with edible beans and tubers. This plant is rarely cultivated but rather pods and tubers are collected from wild plants. It has potential for human food, as well as a green manure or cover crop.
  8. Pigeon Pea Cajanus cajan

    Pigeon Pea, Gandules, Congo Pea, Angola Pea, Pwa Kongo, Gandur, Cachito, Ambrevade, Gungo Pea

    Pigeon pea is a nitrogen-fixing, perennial shrub, growing to 4 m in height, that produces green or dry seed in seasonally dry climates. Pigeon peas are adaptable to many soil types and are used as a dry pea, green vegetable, fodder, fuelwood, green manure or cover crop.
  9. Soybean Glycine max

    Grain Soybean, Soyabean, Shoyu, Soybean

    Soybean is an annual, nitrogen-fixing, nutritious, bean crop grown mainly as a pulse and for oil used for human consumption and many industrial uses. It is a very day length sensitive crop with varieties developed for many different latitudes. Soybeans are also used a fresh vegetable. Soy sauce,...
  10. Vegetable Soybean Glycine max

    Vegetable Soybean, Soya, Edamame

    Vegetable Soybean cultivation probably originated in northeastern China, a region where wild soybeans exist. These high protein beans are best known as pulses and oilseeds.
  11. Lablab Lablab purpureus

    Lablab Bean, Bonavist, Egyptian Kidney Bean, Hyacinth Bean, Dolique, Dolique D'Égypte

    Lablab purpureus is capable of growing in a wide range of climatic conditions and soil types, depending upon the variety chosen. It is widely cultivated throughout the tropics and subtropics and occurs wild in tropical Africa (including Madagascar) and India. The palatability of lablab surpasses...
  12. Lentil Lens culinaris

    Lentil, Gram, Masur, Red Dahl

    Lentils are a low-growing, nitrogen-fixing, herbaceous annual, and are among the oldest of cultivated crops. Lentils are well adapted to semi-arid growing conditions in the cool season of warm temperate regions. They also tolerate subtropical climates and high elevation tropical environments.
  13. Horse Gram Macrotyloma uniflorum

    Horse Gram, Madras Gram, Kulthi Bean

    Horse gram is a dense, low-growing, nitrogen-fixing, annual crop grown for forage and human consumption. It is usually sown as an intercrop but can also be used as a green manure or cover crop. It will tolerate drought conditions, poor soil, and some salinity.
  14. Tepary Bean Phaseolus acutifolius

    Tepary Bean

    Tepary beans are a small, annual, nitrogen-fixing plant, native to the arid regions of the southwestern United States. These beans are very drought-tolerant and grow best with low humidity. Tepary Bean is used as a dried pulse.
  15. Hopi Red Lima Phaseolus lunatus

    Hopi Red Lima

    ‘Hopi Red’ are a reddish baby lima bean that was originally collected from three farmers near Hotevilla on the Hopi reservation in North America.
  16. Lima Bean Phaseolus lunatus

    Lima Bean, Butter Bean, Sieva Bean, Haba Bean

    Lima bean is a vining or bushy, nitrogen-fixing, perennial plant that is grown for the fresh and dry beans. There are two recognized variations, large seeded or lima, and small seeded or sieva type. There is significant variation between varieties, which include annual or perennial, and bushy or...
  17. (True Red) Cranberry Bean Phaseolus vulgaris

    (True Red) Cranberry Bean, Shell Bean, Shellouts, Borlotti, French Horticultural Bean

    The True RedCranberry Bean is deep red in color like a cranberry but the pod is ivory with red flecks. It is a pole bean that blossoms and sets pods over the course of a growing season. Beans from this species serve as a major protein source for humans. Cranberry Bean was first grown in South...
  18. Nuñas Phaseolus vulgaris

    Popping Beans, Nuñas

    From findings discovered in a cave in Peru, experts say that nuñas may have been available 11,000 years ago. This discovery indicates Nuñas were around well before the Incas, and perhaps before the common bean ('frijol', Spanish). Because of their age, Nuñas have been called "a kind of witness of...
  19. Winged Bean Psophocarpus tetragonolobus

    Winged Bean, Asparagus Pea, Goa Bean, Four Angled Bean, Manila Bean, Kok Tau, Haricot Dragon

    The Winged Bean is a climbing, nitrogen-fixing, short-lived perennial vine, usually grown as an annual. The pods, beans, leaves, tubers, and flowers of this plant are all edible. It thrives in hot, humid areas where other beans are more likely to succumb to plant diseases.
  20. Adzuki Bean Vigna angularis

    Adzuki Bean, Azuki Bean

    Adzuki bean is a bushy or vining, nitrogen-fixing, annual plant that is moderately drought tolerant. This bean grows best in temperate climates or higher altitudes in the tropics. The young pods, fresh seeds and dry beans are used for human consumption.
  21. Marama Bean Tylosema esculentum

    Marama Bean

    The Marama Bean is a wild plant prized by people living in and around the Kalahari in southern Africa
  22. Black Gram Bean Vigna mungo

    Urd, Urd Bean, Black Gram

    Black gram is an erect, up to 1 m in height, nitrogen-fixing, drought tolerant, annual plant grown for the dry beans. The bean is used whole, split, husked, fermented, sprouted or ground into flour which when combined with rice flour is especially valued for baking. Black gram is also used as a...
  23. Fava Bean Vicia faba

    Faba Bean, Broad Bean, Fava Bean, Windsor Bean

    Vicia faba is an annual herbaceous plant from the legume family, usually considered to contain three subspecies: V. faba ssp. major (broad bean), V. faba ssp. equina (horse bean), and V. faba ssp. minor (tick bean or pigeon bean). Plants are upright, reaching heights of 1.5-2 m. Leaves of V. faba...
  24. Moth Bean Vigna aconitifolia

    Moth Bean, Mat Bean, Mother Bean

    Moth bean is a low-growing, nitrogen-fixing, annual plant that forms a mat on the ground. It is drought tolerant, nutritious and can be eaten fresh or as a dried bean. Moth bean can also be used as a cover crop to suppress weeds and improve soil.
  25. Mung Bean Vigna radiata

    Mung Bean, Mung, Moong, Mungo, Greengram

    Vigna radiata is an annual, erect or semi-erect legume, reaching heights up to 1.25 m. V. radiata produces 4-30 yellow or green flowers per cluster that become pubescent pods. Leaves are alternate and trifoliate.
  26. Edible Australian Acacias Acacia colei, A. elecantha, A. torulosa, A. tumida

    Acacia, Edible Australian

    Most Edible Acacia seed species are from northern semi-arid regions of Australia and range from medium-sized trees to large, multi-stemmed bushes. Several Edible Acacia species have been successfully introduced into African semi-arid regions like Niger and Senegal. Acacia colei is a drought...
  27. scarlet runner bean Phaseolus coccineus

    Scarlet Runner Bean, runner bean

    Phaseolus coccineus is a perennial, vining legume from Central America. Due to its red, showy flowers, P. coccineus is often grown as an ornamental, though nearly all parts of the plant are edible, given the appropriate preparations. A climbing vine, P. coccineus reaches heights of 3-5 m, and...
  28. Bambara Groundnut Vigna subterranea

    Bambara bean

    Bambara groundnuts are a low-growing, nitrogen-fixing, drought tolerant, annual plant, similar to peanuts in that they produce seeds underground. The seeds are eaten fresh or dried, and oil can be extracted from the dry seed.