Psophocarpus - Four-Angled Bean, Goa Bean, Princess Pea, Winged Bean
DESCRIPTION: These tender perennials have several common names, Winged Bean, Goa Bean, Four-angled Bean and Princess Pea. These plants come from the Old World tropics and are taller and more massive than Snap Beans. Their foliage is similar, but darker and they bear loose sprays of reddish-brown or white flowers, which are followed by interesting pods that grow up to 9 inches long. Each pod has 4 fluted wings along its length. The skin is waxy and the flesh partially translucent in the young pods. Winged beans are more popular in recent years because the pods are high in protein and the tips of the leaves, the flowers, the underground tubers and the seeds shelled from overripe pods can all be eaten.
POTTING: Winged Beans can only grow in regions with a long, warm fall season where the first frost occurs no earlier than Thanksgiving. No matter how early you plant them, they won't fruit until early autumn; after that there must be a long, frost-free period to ensure a good harvest. When the pods are half grown (4 or 5 inches long), they are picked. The pods may be steamed. Ripe or dry seeds may be roasted to make them digestible. In the Deep South and warm West, the tuberous roots grow very large and can be peeled, sliced, or grated and eaten raw or cooked.
PROPAGATION: Set seeds an inch deep in groups of 2 or 3 around the poles of a tall, sturdy teepee or other support for the vines to climb.
VARIETIES: P. tetragonolobus.
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