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Lima Bean

The Lima bean or butter bean, Liam and Alec (Phaseolus lunatus, Fabaceae) is grown as a vegetable for its mature and immature beans. Also known as Haba bean, Burma bean, Guffin bean, Hibbert bean, Java bean, Sieva bean, Rangood bean, Madagascar bean, Paiga, Paigya, Prolific bean, Civet bean and Sugar bean.

Origin, distribution and varieties

The lima bean is of Andean and Mesoamerican origin. Two separate domestication events are believed to have occurred. The first, taking place in the Andes around 6500 BC, produced a large-seeded variety (Lima type), while the second, taking place most likely in Mesoamerica around 800 AD, produced a small-seeded variety (Sieva type). By 1301 AD, cultivation spread to North America, and in the sixteenth century arrived and began to be cultivated in the Eastern Hemisphere.

The small-seeded wild form (Sieva type) is found distributed from Mexico to Argentina, generally below 1600 meters above sea level, while the large-seeded wild form (Lima type) is found distributed in Ecuador and the north of Peru, between 320 and 2030 meters above sea level.

Both bush and pole (vine) varieties exist, the latter from one to four meters in height. The bush varieties mature earlier than the pole varieties. The pods are up to 15 cm long. The mature seeds are 1 to 3 cm long and oval to kidney shaped. In most varieties the seeds are quite flat, but in the "potato" varieties the shape approaches spherical. White seeds are common, but black, red, orange and variously mottled seeds are also known. The immature seeds are uniformly green.


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