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This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)


Words like beans and peas are a bit fuzzy.

Biologically they're closely related

But more relevantly, our everyday naming is very irregular. Sometimes there are five cultivars lying next to each other with distinct names, sometimes we group multiple species as the same thing.

And then other languages do similar slightly differently, so translation is even harder.

Biologically, the Fabaceae family encompasses most (all?) things we call legumes, peas, and beans.

When we name things, we are usually a level more specific: species, sometimes genus, and in suprisingly many case even cultivar (cultivars: DNA is so similar that biology wouldn't care about the difference, but just enough difference, e.g. in yield, that we still select them when growing food. Bred for specific properties).


legumes: a plant whose fruit is enclosed in a pod.

Examples of legumes: soybeans, peanuts, alfalfa, fresh peas, clover, lupins, mesquite.

pulses: basically any legume grown for its dried grains/seeds.

a fairly technical subcategory. For most everyday needs, you might as well call them legumes
The 'dried' part excludes any vegetable and anything grown for their unripe product, such as green beans, green peas (note: green here is used in the sense of unripe. Some are green in color, some are not)
(The FAO further requires there being between one and twelve seeds per pod.)

Examples of pulses: beans, dried peas, lentils, chickpeas.

The below will try to focus more on the names your supermarket probably uses :)


  • English: Lentil
  • Dutch: Linzen
  • German: Linse


Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean)

  • English: common bean, pinto bean, white bean, kidney beans, red beans, black beans, etc.
  • Dutch: sperzieboon, slaboon, prinsessenboon, gewone boon, staakboon, stokboon, staakprinsesseboon, etc.

String beans (American English) and snap beans ((verify)) refers to the common bean's pod.

French beans (British English), haricots verts (french for green beans) refer to fresh and sweet cultivars, and may vary (see also green bean). For example, French green beans are thinner, longer, and apparently more tender than american green beans(verify).

Note that there is quite a bit of taste variation even though these are all cultivars (are they?)

(Cultivar? English: Dwarf bean, bush bean Dutch: struikboon, stamslaboon, struikprinsessenboon French: haricots nains )

See also:

Phaseolus coccineus

  • English: runner Beans (White Dutch runner breans, Scarlet runner beans)
  • Dutch: snijboon (sometimes pronkboon)

Vicia fava (fava bean)

  • English: fava bean (also broad bean in British English)
  • Dutch: tuinboon

Limensis Cannibus (lima bean)

  • English: Lima bean, sometimes butter bean


Chickpea, a.k.a. garbanzo bean

Cicer arietinum (and the only domesticated bean under its genus, Cicer)

Chickpeas can come

  • entirely dry
easy for long-term storage
  • soaked
  • cooked

Non-specific beans

Green beans

Green beans refer to the unripe fruits of one of various beans - often the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), but potentially any(verify).

Green beans (American English) French beans (British English) sometimes squeeky beans (where?) Haricot vert (French)


Unverified and/or used to refer to more than one bean:

  • French bean (seems to be named both as a green bean and a common bean cultivar)
  • Runner bean
  • Green bean ()
  • Snap bean


This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, fix, or tell me)

'Peas' refer to the Pisum genus, and human-food-wise always to Pisum sativum

Pisum sativum

  • English: snap peas, sugar snaps (sugar snap peas), sugar peas, snow peas(verify), more
  • Dutch: peultjes, erwt and more specifically doperwt, kapucijnererwt/schokkererwt/grauwe erwt, gele erwt, suikererwt (sugar snaps), and more

Pisum sativum has a number of cultivars,



Split or not

Drying most beans/lentils/peas will separate the skin, and later cause a split into their natural halves.

The difference between a split and non-split version of the same thing is primarily that the split version cooks faster (the non-split versions of many things need to be soaked and washed). Since the skin is typically gone, it tends to make for sweeter and smoother results.(verify)

As such, split versions and pre-soaked (often canned) are more practical - though things like canned lentils tend to be very much wetter than you want.

Indian cooking has the word Dal (a.k.a. Dhal, Dhaal, Daal) derives from the verb 'to split'.

As such, in India it can refer to the split version of any pulse/lentil/bean, since pulses are frequently available whole, split-with-skin, and split-without-skin.

In word combinations like 'chana dal' it often gets translated that way. In some cases Dal gets translated as lentil.

Some common words you care about when translating from Indian cooking (with the Hindi name, as they seem the most common):

  • Chana - chickpea / garbanzo bean
its flour is known as besan, gram flour, chickpea flour
  • Masoor (red/pink lentil) -
  • Mung (also Moong) - a teardrop-shaped yellow-green lentil
  • Urad / Urid is a black bean (as in one of distinct things you could call that)
  • Lobia - Black-eyed pea (a.k.a. cow pea)


Indian cooking translations: