The bean is one of the humble foods of our pantries but also a powerhouse of protein. As a legume, the plant it produces is able to take nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into protein as well as return it to the soil, making it useful both as a soil enriching plant and as a high-quality food.
A bean is the seed in the pod of legumes in the genus Phaseolus. During this phase of life, the seed is a dicot, meaning it has two parts. These parts are two large cotyledons, which are the starchy parts that make up the food of the seed when people eat it. A seed coat covers the outside of the bean while in the very center there is a small embryo. The embryo is dormant until the right conditions start growth.
Water and warm temperatures cause the bean to swell and the embryo to start growing. The first root, the radicle stretches downward to secure the plant and search for nutrients and water. The tiny hairs along the root will absorb water, keeping the seed growing. The cotyledons will provide food for the developing embryo.
When the first leaf of the bean plant breaks through the soil and into the sunlight, the vegetative stage of the bean has started. This first leaf is called the hypocotyl and starts immediately to take energy from the process of photosynthesis. More three-pointed leaves continue to be produced and then branches with the leaves.
Once the plant has reached the stage of maturity, it will start develop blossoms. These blossoms are self-pollinating, as they do not need the help of outside forces, such as bees or insects. By the time the flower opens, it is already pollinated and the seed is starting to develop.
Beans will send out many blossoms all at once for a period of a couple of weeks. During this time the pods will lengthen and then swell as the seeds within them start to mature. If the pods or beans as we call them are not picked, the plant will stop vegetative growth and the beans seeds will mature and then dry out, ready for planting again the next growing season.