Genetic Resources of Phaseolus Beans

Volume 6 of the series Current Plant Science and Biotechnology in Agriculture pp 441-463

Variation, Taxonomy, Domestication, and Germplasm Potentialities in Phaseolus coccineus

  • Alfonso Delgado Salinas

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Based on archaeological evidence, information included in the pre-hispanic codices (Hernández X. et al., 1979), and data recorded on herbarium specimens, Phaseolus coccineus L. cultivation in Mexico has diminished considerably since the Spanish conquest. Today, the two cultigens of P. coccineus (P. coccineus subsp. coccineus and P. coccineus subsp. darwinianus Hdez. X. and Miranda C.) are grown only in 13 states of Mexico, in Guatemala, and to a lesser degree in the rest of Central America. Both cultigens are also grown on a small scale by different ethnic groups in South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru), where P. coccineus subsp. darwinianus appears to be more popular than P. coccineus subsp. coccineus. In Argentina, P. coccineus subsp. coccineus is cultivated as an ornamental as well as for its edible seeds. The technology most commonly used in these countries involves cooperative labor, the use of traditional farm implements, and in dependence of non-local inputs of energy and chemicals. In countries of Europe and Africa, as well as in the United States, P. coccineus subsp. coccineus has been grown for its pods (as a green pod crop) and for dry seeds. Also it is valued as an ornamental plant because of its dazzling inflorescences.