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Sometime around the end of the sixteenth century, Georg Everhard Rumpf [192k], described for the historical record, the plant species known to us today as winged bean Psophocarpus tetragonolobus (L.) DC., which he observed on the island of Amboina ( now part of modern day Indonesia) .

Winged bean pods His description of the species [115k] and the drawing [111k] of it, possibly attributable to his son are models of pre-Linnean observation. He noted its viny, climbing habit, tuberous roots ('like turnips') and its 'long four-sided pods, about a foot long, barely a finger's breadth wide, fringed by sinuous winged flanges'.

Rumphius believed that the winged bean had been introduced into Amboina, possibly from Java or Bali, but did not express an opinion on its ultimate origins.

After Rumphius

Over the next two centuries many people recorded sitings, and by the end of the 19th century its presence had been documented across the breadth of Peninsular India, as well as in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indochina, Philippines, Guam, New Guinea, Indonesia and the Mascarene Islands. The crop had not been recorded in the African mainland at that time, but has since been widely distributed there.

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