Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Winged bean surprise

When I started volunteering at the school garden, most of the plants, even the cow grass, were dying due to the lack of rain for weeks. Only the trees, larger plants and a particular vine were surviving in the heat.

Due to the lack of support, the vine was growing out of control, into a big ball of tangled leaves, like a green tumbleweed. I thought it was the blue pea creeper (Clitoria ternatea).

In our cleaning up exercise, we removed the vine but the roots refused to budge. Soon, new leaves started to form again. Once the weather changed for the better (wetter), it grew even faster than ever, often strangling the new plants (tomato and lady's fingers) we had put in nearby.

When pastel lilac flowers appeared, I realised it could be the winged bean, a tropical legume that grows abundantly in hot, humid equatorial countries. I decided to wait and see if my intuition was right.

When I was at the school garden this evening, I snooped around and found this bean pod lying beneath the leaves. It appears to be a winged bean pod that had grown out of shape.

I found some new pods under the thick canopy of leaves. We need to build a support soon to ensure that the pods grow up nicely.

I have eaten this bean at the nasi padang stall. It is usually cooked in a spicy sambal sauce. According to Wiki, every part of the plant is edible, from the tender pods to the flowers (used for colouring rice), leaves and roots. Even the seeds can be made into a flour or coffee-like drink.

Looks like we have a valuable plant growing in our midst. I must get the kids to help build a trellis for this plant tomorrow.


  1. Winged beans (in Malay, called Kacang Botoll) is also eaten raw 'sambal belacan' (fresh pounded chilli with prawn paste). I love eating kacang botol that my mom frys with chilli and dried prawns.

  2. I would like to say that you really made my day, it's wonderful when you just look around the web
    and find something like this, reminds me of that ''How to make a dinner for a romantic...'' by Elsa Thomas,
    you're a wonderful writer let me tell you!!! ñ_ñ

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  3. Hi Blur Ting, the work you do is inspiring! Gardening is a fantastic way of letting kids be involved in taking care of their environment and I really wish more people would take heed. I'd like to share this post with my readers on Garden Voices, our NParks blog. With your permission, that is. Thanks in advance! :)

    Regards, Jiahui Zheng, National Parks Board.

  4. I realized I forgot to leave my contact details! It'd be great if you could reply to zheng_jiahui@nparks.gov.sg, thanks very much :)

  5. I am interested in getting the seeds of this goa bean....can you assist please?