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Large plant seeds from Fabaceae (also known as Leguminosae).

Beans are large plant seeds from several genera of the family Fabaceae (also known as Leguminosae). They are a diverse group with over 4000 cultivars registered in the US alone.

Historically beans have been an important source of protein, and are thought to be one of the oldest cultivated plants. Beans continue to be an important source of vegetable protein for much of the world's population. Beans also contain significant amounts of fiber, and are high in complex carbohydrates and iron.

Beans are also important in agriculture. As legumes, they have a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen fixing bacteria, and are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen into nitrates - which can be used by other plants as a nutrient. This makes them an important part of many companion planting schemes (.eg. "Three Sisters") and crop rotation schemes (eg. "Norfolk Four Course").

Some beans can be toxic when raw. This especially applies to red and kidney beans. Some areas of Africa also reduce bean toxicity through a fermentation process.

Use this tag for all questions about beans. Some specific bean types may have their own tags - use these as appropriate.