Economic Botany

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 272–288 | Cite as

Taxonomy of the genusGlycine, domestication and uses of soybeans

  • T. Hymowitz
  • C. A. Newell


The genusGlycine has had a stormy taxonomic history. Recent studies of herbarium specimens and cytological and morphological analyses of living collections, coupled with chemotaxonomic investigations, have made it necessary to revise the genus. In the first part of this paper the current taxonomic status of the genusGlycine is reviewed.

The soybean was domesticated in China. It is unfortunate that the literature concerned with the antiquity and historical development of the soybean is obscured by legends and myths. In the second section of the paper, the archeological, historical, agricultural and botanical literature is summarized in order to present all the known evidence as to when, where and by whom the soybean was domesticated.

The soybean is the world’s premier source of dietary vegetable oil and is nutritionally an excellent and inexpensive source of protein for use either as human food or animal feed. In addition, the soybean has numerous industrial uses. In the last section of this paper the traditional uses of fermented and nonfermented soybeans in the East as well as the high-technology-developed uses of soybeans in the West are summarized.


Economic Botany Mung Bean Wild Soybean East ASIAN Apio 
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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Hymowitz
  • C. A. Newell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AgronomyUniversity of IllinoisUSA

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