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South and Southeast Asia

Throughout most of its distribution in South and Southeast Asia, winged bean is grown mainly for its green pods and beans; a minor vegetable in the household garden complex known as 'pekarangan' in the context of Indonesia.

In East Java and Bali, winged bean is very occasionally grown for its mature seed; planted in small numbers along the bunds of wet rice fields('sawah' in the Indonesian language) and consumed in a variety of specialised way - "tempeh" (fermented bean cake) and, to a lesser extent, 'tauhu' (bean curd) and bean milk.

PNG map

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New Guinea.

Baliem uplands

The cultivation of winged bean reaches its most sophisticated level in highland New Guinea, where it is grown as a minor field crop for its above ground vegetable parts and its edible root tubers, within a swidden agricultural system (termed 'ladang' in the Indonesian classification of farming systems).

Baliem winged bean

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In the central plains of Burma south of Mandalay, winged bean is planted without trellis support on a field crop scale, for its salable tubers, in a seasonally irrigated dry field system (intermediate between 'sawah' and 'tegalan' in the Indonesian classification). Much of the seed for these plantings is produced within a 'ladang' system, in the Shan hills to the north east of Mandalay.

Kyaukse, Central Burma

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SEA map

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The diversity and complexity of human interactions involved in the dispersal and agricultural production of winged bean are strong circumstantial evidence for the antiquity of the domesticate in tropical Asia and Melanesia. However, no evidence for a wild progenitor of the domesticated form of Psophocarpus tetragonolobus has been forthcoming from field research within the countries where traditionally it has been planted.

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