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Broad Bean

Vicia faba

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Fabaceae (Pea)
Also in this family:
Alpine Milk-vetch, Alsike Clover, Birdsfoot, Birdsfoot Clover, Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bithynian Vetch, Bitter Vetch, Black Broom, Black Medick, Bladder Senna, Broad-leaved Everlasting Pea, Bur Medick, Burrowing Clover, Bush Vetch, Clustered Clover, Common Broom, Common Gorse, Common Laburnum, Common Restharrow, Common Vetch, Crimson Clover, Crown Vetch, Dragon's Teeth, Dwarf Gorse, Dyer's Greenweed, False Acacia, Fine-leaved Vetch, Fodder Vetch, Garden Lupin, Garden Pea, Goat's Rue, Grass Vetchling, Greater Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Bird's-foot Trefoil, Hairy Greenweed, Hairy Tare, Hairy Vetchling, Hairy-fruited Broom, Haresfoot Clover, Hop Trefoil, Horseshoe Vetch, Hungarian Vetch, Kidney Vetch, Knotted Clover, Large Trefoil, Lesser Trefoil, Lucerne, Marsh Pea, Meadow Vetchling, Narrow-leaved Bird's-foot Trefoil, Narrow-leaved Everlasting Pea, Narrow-leaved Vetch, Nootka Lupin, Norfolk Everlasting Pea, Orange Birdsfoot, Petty Whin, Purple Milk-vetch, Purple Oxytropis, Red Clover, Reversed Clover, Ribbed Melilot, Rough Clover, Russell Lupin, Sainfoin, Scorpion Senna, Scottish Laburnum, Sea Clover, Sea Pea, Sickle Medick, Slender Bird's-foot Trefoil, Slender Tare, Slender Trefoil, Small Melilot, Small Restharrow, Smooth Tare, Spanish Broom, Spanish Gorse, Spiny Restharrow, Spotted Medick, Spring Vetch, Strawberry Clover, Suffocated Clover, Sulphur Clover, Tall Melilot, Toothed Medick, Tree Lupin, Tuberous Pea, Tufted Vetch, Twin-headed Clover, Two-flowered Everlasting Pea, Upright Clover, Upright Vetch, Western Clover, Western Gorse, White Broom, White Clover, White Lupin, White Melilot, Wild Liquorice, Wood Vetch, Yellow Oxytropis, Yellow Vetch, Yellow Vetchling, Zigzag Clover
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
180 centimetres tall

White, 5 petals
White with black blotch, appearing in clusters.
Long green pods which contain the beans.
Compound leaves. The 5-9 leaflets are oval and without toothed edges.
Sweet-smelling. Some say this flower smells of apples.
Other Names:
Broad Bean, Broad Vetch, English Bean, European Bean, Faba Bean, Fava Bean, Field Bean, Horse Bean, Straight Bean, Tic Bean, Tick Bean.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Vicia faba, also known as the broad bean, fava bean, or faba bean, is a species of legume that is native to Africa and Asia. It is a widely cultivated plant that is grown for its edible seeds, which are a popular food source in many parts of the world. Vicia faba is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of climates and soil types. It has thin, upright stalks that can reach heights of up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) and has long, narrow leaves that are a bright green color. The plant produces small, purple or white flowers that are followed by long, narrow pods that contain the seeds. Vicia faba is a major crop plant and is grown in many countries for food and animal feed. The seeds are high in protein and are a good source of many essential nutrients.


Broad Bean (Vicia faba) is a cool-season vegetable crop that is grown for its large edible seeds and nutritious green pods. It is a hardy plant that can grow in a wide range of climates and soils, making it a popular choice for home and commercial gardeners. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the Broad Bean and its many benefits.

Nutritional Benefits: Broad Beans are a great source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals such as iron, potassium, and vitamins B and C. They are also low in fat and calories, making them a healthy addition to any diet.

Culinary Uses: The large, green pods of the Broad Bean can be eaten fresh or cooked, while the seeds can be roasted, grilled or even mashed into a dip. They are often used in soups, stews, and salads, and can also be served as a side dish. In Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, Broad Beans are used in dips like hummus and in dishes like falafel.

Easy to Grow: Broad Beans are easy to grow and can be planted in either the spring or fall. They prefer a sunny location and well-draining soil and can be grown in either a vegetable garden or in containers.

Pest Resistant: Broad Beans are generally resistant to pests and diseases, making them a low-maintenance crop for gardeners. They are also a great choice for gardeners who are looking to reduce their use of pesticides and chemicals.

Benefits for Soil Health: Broad Beans are also a great crop for improving soil health. They belong to the legume family and have the ability to fix nitrogen from the air and transfer it into the soil. This helps to improve soil fertility and reduces the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Environmental Benefits: In addition to improving soil health, Broad Beans are also beneficial for the environment. They have a low carbon footprint, as they require little to no irrigation and are generally grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Additionally, their nitrogen-fixing ability helps to reduce the amount of nitrogen-based fertilizers needed, reducing the risk of nitrogen runoff into waterways and groundwater.

Companion Planting: Broad Beans are often used as a companion plant in vegetable gardens. They are said to help improve the growth of other crops by fixing nitrogen in the soil, and also provide physical support for taller plants like tomatoes.

Storing and Preserving: Broad Beans can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, or they can be frozen or canned for longer storage. They are also easy to preserve by drying, making them a great option for gardeners who want to preserve the harvest for use throughout the year.

Uses in Traditional Medicine: Broad Beans have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years, dating back to ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. They were believed to have a variety of medicinal properties, including the ability to improve digestive health, boost energy levels, and reduce inflammation.

Ethnobotanical Significance: In many cultures, Broad Beans hold a special place in traditional cuisine and folklore. In ancient Greece, for example, Broad Beans were used as a symbol of good luck and protection. They were also thought to have the ability to ward off evil spirits and were used in divination rituals.

Cultural Significance: Broad Beans have been cultivated and enjoyed by humans for thousands of years and have been a staple food in many cultures. They have been used in traditional dishes and are still enjoyed today in cuisines around the world, from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes to Latin American and African cuisine.

Growing Broad Beans Organically: For gardeners who are looking to grow Broad Beans organically, there are a few key considerations. Start by choosing a sunny location with well-draining soil, and amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Broad Beans are generally hardy and pest-resistant, but it is important to avoid overcrowding and to provide adequate support for the plants. Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged, and mulch around the plants to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.

Harvesting and Cooking: Broad Beans are typically ready to harvest when the pods are plump and the seeds are well-formed. To cook, simply shell the beans and boil or steam until tender. They can also be sautéed, grilled, or roasted for a more flavorful dish. Fresh Broad Bean pods can also be enjoyed raw in salads or as a snack.

Using Broad Beans in the Landscape: In addition to being a great food crop, Broad Beans can also be used in the landscape as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop or as a decorative ornamental plant. They have attractive, bright green leaves and spikes of pink, white, or purple flowers, making them a great choice for adding color and structure to garden beds and borders.

Overall, Broad Beans are a valuable and versatile crop that offer a range of benefits for gardeners, the environment, and human health. Whether grown for food, medicine, or ornamental purposes, Broad Beans are a great choice for anyone looking to add a sustainable and healthy crop to their garden.


Broad Bean filmed at Orford, Suffolk on the 28th June 2022.


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