Monday 6 May 2013

What is the difference between the Winged Bean and the Asparagus Pea?

Photo courtesy: - Asparagus Pea

Recently, I have been searching for a bean that I used to often eat in Malaysia - a bean that doesn't look like a regular bean, but has four frilly sides to it.  It is called the Winged Bean or the Four-Angled Bean.  It is a lovely, crunchy bean that is really delicious stir-fried with a spicy chilli, garlic and shrimp paste mix.

After searching for seeds online, I finally stumbled across the Asparagus Pea, which looks identical to the Winged Bean.  So, the question is - is there a difference between the Winged Bean and the Asparagus Pea?

Winged Bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus)

I found this excerpt in the book "Growing Food: A Guide to Food Production" by Tony Winch.

The Winged Bean should not be confused with the Lotus tetragonolobus, also known as the Winged Pea or Asparagus Pea and which also has four-sided and four-winged pods.  This plant grows wild in the Mediterranean and is occasionally grown in temperate regions for its young pods, eaten as a vegetable

Photo Courtesy: - Flower of Winged Bean 

In addition, the flowers of the Winged Bean grown in Asia seem to be a pale blue, whilst the Asparagus Pea has deep red flowers.

So, it would seem that, these are two rather different plants?

I have bought Asparagus Pea seeds from Thompson & Morgan, and am now trying to grow them in the UK.  I can't wait to taste them to find out whether they taste the same as the Winged Bean!

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