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Species of the month[edit]


Cicer arietinum

Cicer arietinum

Some facts on this legume:

Height: Between 20 and 60 cm.

Flowers: White with blue, violet or pink veins.

Peas: Yellow-brown; borne one or two per pod.

Types: Desi, which has small, dark seeds with a rough coat and Kabuli, which has lighter colored, larger seeds with a smoother coat.

World annual production: 9,000,000 tonnes.

First described: By the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus in 1753.

Take some seeds of Cicer arietinum, mash them to a paste and blend with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Sounds tasty? It is the Middle Eastern dish "hummus". Chickpea seeds are nutritionally rich. They make an excellent source of high-quality protein combined with a wide range of essential amino acids. They also are high in dietary fiber and a rich source of carbohydrates, but are low in fat, providing dietary phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc. This plant is believed to be derived from the the wild species Cicer reticulatum. It probably reached the Mediterranean region by 4000 B.C. and India by 2000 B.C. In the 16th century it was brought to the New World by the Spanish and Portuguese. Today, India is the largest producer, and a considerable consumer. Several other countries in South Asia, the Middle East, the Mediterranean region, and elsewhere are also significant producers. The Chickpea belongs to the subfamily Faboideae, part of the large Fabaceae or "legume" family, which contains over 19,400 species.

See also: Species of previous months