Winged beans/Sigarillas


Winged beans or sigarilyas in the Philippines is also known as Goa beans, Mauritius beans, asparagus pea and many other names. I only know this beans as sigarilyas in my hometown. It is a tropical legume native to New Guinea. It grows as a vine 3-4 m. in height. It is a perennial but can be grown as annual. It is disease tolerant and does not need to be fertilized because just like other cover crops and other legumes, they fix nitrogen into the soil where they are planted.  It needs full sun and a trellis for the vines to hold unto.

The pods are normally green in color but it also comes in shades of cream, pink or purple.  I haven’t seen it in cream or pink but I have seen it in purple last time I went home to Iba, Zambales last year. It was actually prevalent in the market place during my visit.  And I noticed lately that it is commonly sold now in almost all the farmer’s market here in Hawaii.  It is gaining popularity indeed.

According to my research all the parts of the plant are edible but I haven’t really tried eating any parts but the green pods in my garden.

Winged beans are very nutritious, high in protein, and all kinds of vitamins especially A and C. It is rich in tocopherol, an anti-oxidant that helps utilized Vit. A in the body.

It is widely grown all over tropical areas like Southeast Asia and Africa.  Some countries use the winged beans as a remedy for smallpox and a cure for vertigo in Malaysian countries.

I highly praise this humble vegetable because it could be a solution for hunger in the world. It is easy to grow, needs to soak the seeds before planting though. It has no known diseases, and a great potential for feeding livestock.

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