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) .
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
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.
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.