Phaseolus lunatus

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Phaseolus lunatus L.

alt=Description of Phaseolus lunatus Blanco2.369-cropped.jpg picture.
Blanco, Flora de Filipinas, 1880-1883
Order Fabales
Family Leguminosae - Papilionoideae
Genus Phaseolus

2n = 22

Origin : Mexico to Argentina,
West Indies

wild and cultivated

English {{{english}}}
French {{{french}}}


Popular names

  • English: Lima bean, Sieva bean, butter bean, Madagascar bean
  • French: haricot de Lima ; pois du Cap (Réunion) ; pois savon, pois souche (Antilles)
  • Burma: Burma bean, white Burma (PROSEA)
  • Indonesia: Java bean, kratok (PROSEA)
  • Malaysia: kacang china, kacang jawa, kekara kratok (PROSEA)
  • Philippines: sibatse simaron, patáni, zabache (PROSEA)
  • Thailand: thua rachamat (PROSEA)
  • Vietnam: dâu ngu (PROSEA)
See more European names


Phaseolus lunatus L. (1753)

  • Synonym: Phaseolus limensis Macf. (1837)
  • Wild type: var. silvester Baudet (1977)
  • Cultivated types are put in three groups:
    • Sieva Group
      synonym: Phaseolus lunatus sensu stricto
      Thin pod with 3-4 small seeds, more or less convex. Here belong 'baby lima' in the United States, as well as 'butter bean' in southern United States.
    • Potato Group
      synonym: Phaseolus bipunctatus Jacq. (1770)
      Thick pod with some spherical seeds, often with a high content in linamarine.
    • Big Lima Group
      synonym: Phaseolus inamoenus L. (1753)
      Thick pod with 4-8 big flat seeds. The 'butter bean' of the United States is usually of this type (except in the South).


'Christmas' Lima beans

Characters used to describe cultivars and genetic resources are organised in a descriptor list published by Bioversity:

Lima bean descriptors (pdf)


Moche ceramic vessel with lima beans. Larco Museum Collection. Lima-Peru

An important pulse in the United-States, this bean has mostly spread in tropical regions. Almost unknown in Europe.

The wild Lima bean is known from Mexico to Argentina and the West Indies. Archeological remnants of cultivated types are found as well in Peru, dating back 6800-6200 BC. (big seeds), as in Mexico. Domestication seems to have occurred in several places.

Read about the origin of Lima bean by Alphonse de Candolle, Origine des plantes cultivées. 1882.