Latin: Phaseolus vulgaris
This is a herbaceous annual plant grown worldwide for its edible fruit, either the dry seed or the unripe fruit, both of which are referred to as beans. The leaf is also occasionally used as a vegetable, and the straw can be used for fodder. Along with other species of the bean genus (Phaseolus), it is classified botanically into the legume family (Fabaceae), most of whose members acquire nitrogen through an association with rhizobia, a species of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
The common bean is a highly variable species with a long history of cultivation. All of the wild members of the species have a climbing habit, but there are many cultivars, classified as bush beans, or pole beans depending on their style of growth.
These include the kidney bean, the navy bean, the pinto bean, and the wax bean. The other major types of commercially-grown bean are the runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) and the broad bean (Vicia faba).
Production of beans is well distributed worldwide, with countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, South and North America among the top bean growers. Brazil and India are the largest producers of dry beans, while China produces, by far, the largest quantity of green beans. Worldwide, 23 million tonnes of dry common beans and 17.1 million tonnes of green beans were grown in 2010.
The bean is a medium to large tan or hazelnut-colored bean splashed or streaked with red, magenta, or black. A new cranberry bean variety, 'Crimson', is light tan speckled with maroon. It is resistant to viruses and has a high yield.