Bean

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Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae (alternately Leguminosae) used for human food or animal feed.

The whole young pods of bean plants, if picked before the pods ripen and dry, are very tender and may be eaten cooked or raw. Thus the word "green beans" means "green" in the sense of unripe (many are in fact not green in color), as the beans inside the pods of green beans are too small to comprise a significant part of the cooked fruit.

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Terminology

The term "bean" originally referred to the seed of the broad bean, but was later expanded to include members of the genus Phaseolus, such as the common bean and the runner bean, and the related genus Vigna. The term is now applied in a general way to many other related plants such as soybeans, peas, lentils, chickpeas (garbanzos), vetches, and lupins.[citation needed]

"Bean" can be used as a near-synonym of "pulse", an edible legume, though the term "pulses" is usually reserved for leguminous crops harvested for their dry grain and usually excludes crops mainly used for oil extraction (like soybeans and peanuts) or those used exclusively for sowing purposes (such as clover and alfalfa). Leguminous crops harvested green for food, such as snap peas, snow peas, etc., are classified as vegetable crops.[citation needed]

In English usage, the word "beans" is also sometimes used to mean the seeds or pods of plants that are not in the family Leguminosae, but which bear a superficial resemblance to true beans, for example coffee beans, castor beans and cocoa beans (which resemble bean seeds), and vanilla beans (which resemble the pods).[citation needed]

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