Vicia faba minuta
The species Vicia faba has been shaped by human selection since around 7,000 BCE. The large-seeded forms commonly used for human food arose around 500 CE. The species is often subdivided by botanists to take into account the different forms that are cultivated, though different botanists often have different ideas about which system of naming is correct. We have three entries in the database, using the three names listed here to cover the basic types that are, at least sometimes, used for food by humans. These are as follows:-
Vicia faba L. This is the cultivated, large-seeded form, often known as broad beans.
Vicia faba var equina St.-Amans. This is the field or horse bean - the seed is occasionally used for human consumption, the plant is used as a green manure.
Vicia faba var minuta (hort. ex Alef.) Mansf. This is the tick bean - the seed is occasionally used for human consumption, the plant is used as a green manure.
Faba vulgaris minor Harz
Faba vulgaris minuta hort. ex Alef.
Vicia faba minor (Harz) Beck
Common Name: Tick Bean
Vicia faba minuta is an annual lant growing up to 100cm tall.
Related to the broad bean (Vicia faba), this species also has an edible seed though it is smaller and is more commonly used for animal feed. The plant can also be grown as a green manure crop[
Although often used as an edible seed, there is a report that eating the seed of this plant can cause the disease 'Favism' in susceptible people[
]. Favism only occurs in cases of excessive consumption of the seed (no more details are given[
]) and when the person is genetically inclined towards the disease[
Long cultivated for its seed, the original habitat is obscure
Not known in a truly wild situation.
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Prefers a fairly heavy loam but succeeds in a sunny position in most soils that are well-drained[
]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes dry conditions[
Tick beans are not as winter-hardy as other forms of this species and so are best sown in the spring. The autumn sown varieties are more susceptible to 'chocolate spot' fungus (which can be remedied by the addition of potash to the soil) but are more likely to escape damage from aphis[
This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[
]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.
Seed - raw or cooked[
]. It can be eaten before it is fully ripe in the same way as broad beans, the fully ripe seed requires overnight soaking to soften it before it is cooked.
Leaves - cooked[
]. Used like spinach.
A good green manure crop, it is best sown in the spring. Relatively fast growing, producing a good bulk and fixing nitrogen[
]. The upright growth is not a very good weed suppresser though.
A fibre is obtained from the stems.
The burnt stems are rich in potassium and can be used in making soap.
Seed - sow in situ in spring or autumn. The seed has a hard seedcoat and may benefit from scarification before sowing in order to speed up and improve germination. This can usually be done by pouring a small amount of nearly boiling water on the seeds (being careful not to cook them!) and then soaking them for 12 - 24 hours in warm water. By this time they should have imbibed moisture and swollen - if they have not, then carefully make a nick in the seedcoat (being careful not to damage the embryo) and soak for a further 12 hours before sowing.