Broad Bean is a
annual plant of the UK, typically found growing in cropland, roadsides and waste ground, to a mature height of up to 180cm.
The Broad Bean is an erect bluish-green branching plant, which is largely hairless. It bears large white pea-like flowers with black patches on the side 'keel' petals and black vertical stripes on the upright 'standard' petal. The Broad Bean is a plant thought to originate from selective breeding in the Middle East and has been in cultivation for thousands of years. Today it is grown as an edible legume and for animal fodder. After cropping, the plant is ploughed into the field to act as a green manure, enriching the soil with nitrogen. The Broad Bean is found growing in the wild as an 'escape' of cultivation.
Botanic classification and naming: Broad Bean is a member of the Pea (Fabaceae) family. The genus name
'Vicia' identifies the plant as a Vetch and its species name 'faba' means 'bean'.
Concerns: Broad Beans contain a toxin called 'Vicine', which can cause haemolytic anaemia or 'Favism' in people lacking a gene to produce enzymes that normally render the toxin harmless. Incidence of the genetic condition responsible is as high as 25% in some parts of the world.
Benefits: Broad Bean has nectar-rich flowers, and additional nectaries outside the flowers, which attract a very wide range of pollinating bee species, including the Honey bee. It also attracts pollen-eating beetles. Broad Bean has root nodules that host nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These make atmospheric nitrogen available to feed the plant and enrich the soil.
Benefits to wildlife are also indicated with orange icons in the plant profile bar at the top.